There’s a war going on inside your mouth, and it’s up to you to decide which side wins. We’re not talking a civil war with cannons and bayonets, but rather a war between good and bad bacteria. For optimal health, your mouth should have a good balance of bacteria and helpful minerals. When the bad bacteria gains strength over the minerals, that’s when you have trouble.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities are holes in your teeth caused by tooth decay that your body cannot heal on its own.
How Do Cavities Form?
This is where we get back to talking about that bacteria war. We have loads of it in our mouths — some good, some bad. Some bacteria use sugars to make acids, and when these bacteria create an infection, tooth decay occurs. These acids eat away at the outer layer, or enamel, overtime and make holes, or cavities, in the tooth.
There is a constant struggle between the bad bacteria creating acids and the good minerals in our mouth. The minerals calcium, phosphate and fluoride are on the good team, working to protect our teeth from harm by replacing minerals lost from tooth decay.
When a tooth is frequently attacked by acid, the tooth loses many minerals. At first, a white spot may appear where the minerals are deficient. Take this as a warning sign of impending decay. When you just see a spot, it’s not too late to reverse the damage. Enamel is strong and self-repairing when armed with fluoride and the minerals in our saliva, but the enamel can only take so much. It becomes weakened with continuous acidic conditions and cavities form. Once you have a cavity, you need a dentist.
How Can We Prevent Cavities?
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day is your best defense in fighting cavities. Use toothpaste with fluoride and drink fluoridated water. (Tap water contains fluoride.) Limit sugary and starchy foods; this is the fuel the bad guys use to attack your teeth! It’s also important to limit snacking, as you won’t be giving the good bacteria enough time to fight off the bad if you’re fueling acid-creating bacteria too often. And remember to come see us regularly. We’ll give the good guys in your mouth a powerful boost by cleaning and sometimes sealing your teeth.
At Austin Family Dental, we want every mouth to be a healthy mouth. Give us a call today for a routine cleaning or assistance with any dental concerns you may have.