Dental cavities are one of the most commonly occurring dental problems. Caused by an overpopulation of natural bacteria in the mouth, dental cavities can cause tooth sensitivity and the eventual loss of the tooth if not treated.
Luckily, there are strategies to prevent or minimize the risk of developing cavities. Part of this consists of practicing good daily oral hygiene. Another part is scheduling dental appointments so that your dentist can evaluate your oral health. During these regular dental appointments, your dentist will help prevent cavities using different strategies. Here are three main ways your dentist prevents cavities:
Professional Teeth Cleaning:
One of the main causes of cavities is the overpopulation of natural bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria reside within the plaque on your teeth and feed upon the sugars in the foods and beverages you consume. After eating, they produce a waste product that is highly acidic and causes your enamel to wear down. If exposed to enough acid, over time a dental cavity will begin to form and progress until it is treated.
Professional teeth cleanings are an ideal way to prevent or limit cavities because they remove the excess plaque and tartar from your teeth. This reduces the amount of bacteria in your mouth, as well as eliminates the habitat that bacteria thrive it. During a professional teeth cleaning, special dental tools are used to scrape away plaque and tartar. Then your mouth is brushed, flossed, and rinsed to remove any debris.
After your teeth have been thoroughly cleaned and rinsed, a fluoride polish is brushed onto the surface of your teeth. Fluoride helps make the enamel stronger and more resistant against acids from the bacteria. Additionally, it makes it harder for plaque to stick to your teeth. Although there is fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwash, and even some drinking water, this fluoride polish is something only your dentist can apply. For more information on fluoride, see “Fluoride and Decay Prevention”.
Dental sealants are a thin coating of composite that is applied to the pits and fissures of the back molars in order to seal the tooth. This prevents bacteria from becoming lodged in the highly-textured chewing surface of the molars. Dental sealants are especially helpful for children, but they are also often used on adults who can’t brush towards the back of their mouth.
Overall, these preventative dental services are highly important to prevent cavities. In addition to good daily oral hygiene, regular dental visits ensure that your teeth are getting all the care that they need to stay healthy. By having regular cleanings, fluoride treatments, and even possibly dental sealants applied, your teeth will be strong enough to combat cavities.
Dr. Paul H. Kim obtained his dental doctoral degree at the UCLA School of Dentistry in 2002. Upon graduation, he worked at a multi-specialty dental office in Los Angeles as an associate doctor until he opened his own dental practice in 2005. He has taught at UCLA Dental School as a clinical instructor. He has post-graduate training in implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics and sedation dentistry. He is an active member of several dental organizations, and he is currently teaching other doctors to provide quality dental services to their patients. He is passionate about helping people achieve great and confident smiles and good oral health.