Preventing tooth decay is about a lot more than just brushing your teeth. Cavities (the end result of tooth decay) can occur on the smooth surfaces of your teeth, between your teeth and in the pits of your back chewing teeth. Of these three locations, only the smooth surfaces of your teeth are protected by brushing alone.
Flossing every day will help prevent tooth decay between your teeth, but you may be surprised to learn that none of the preventive techniques (brushing, flossing, rinsing) really work on pits and fissures.
The true key to preventing cavities is to limit the number of times per day you eat or drink. Each time you eat or drink, the bacteria in plaque reacts with the food to produce an acid that attacks the surfaces of your teeth. To combat this acid attack, your saliva has minerals in it that repair the affects of the acid. If you limit yourself to three meals and a few snacks a day, you give your mouth’s own natural defenses time to repair your teeth. If you snack constantly, or sip on sugary beverages all day, you don’t give your mouth time to make repairs, and your rate of tooth decay is accelerated.
Dental sealants, thin plastic coatings applied to the molars, are one of the most effective ways to protect the fissures and pits of the back teeth. First molars emerge around 6 years of age, and second molars make their appearance around the age of 12. Ideally, sealants are applied as soon as possible after the molars have emerged.
The process of applying sealants is simple and short. The tooth surfaces are cleaned, a gel is applied for a few seconds, then cleaned off, and the process is complete. Sealants can last from 5 to 10 years, and should be checked regularly at dental appointments.
If you suspect you have a cavity, don’t delay your treatment. If you are a fearful dental patient, there are many ways to help make the whole process more comfortable for you, so give a us a call today to discuss your options. You can also use our easy Make an Appointment form – we look forward to hearing from you.