Our teeth are vital to us. With them we eat which strengthens our bodies, makes us strong and keeps us healthy. They’re the core of our smile which is a big part of making a good first impression we make whenever we meet new people. Humans have two sets of the teeth in their lifetimes: their baby teeth (primary teeth) and their adult teeth (secondary teeth). Once your adult teeth have grown in, usually by the age of twelve or thirteen, it’s extremely important to take care of your teeth as you won’t be growing anymore naturally (except wisdom teeth but that’s another story). The first and foremost threat to the longevity of your teeth are cavities.
What is a Cavity?
A cavity is another name for spots of decay on our teeth where the tooth enamel has given way forming holes in your teeth (hence the name cavity) and revealing the sensitive soft tissues and nerves within. This exposes the interior of your tooth to bacteria which can bring on infections. Cavities can also cause sensitivity to temperature and touch and even hinder proper chewing. This restricts your dietary options and makes it difficult to maintain proper nutrition. Cavities are the ailment humans are most frequently diagnosed with, second only to the common cold. But what causes them in the first place? What can be done to fix them? And what can we do to keep them from needing to be fixed? Drs. Sara and John Gotwalt of Lititz PA have the answers.
Our mouths are full of living bacteria, most of it relatively harmless. However, these little bacteria can cause big problems, collecting in places that are hard for us to clean such as in between teeth and right at the gum line and form plaque a clear but sticky substance. Whenever we eat foods full of carbohydrates such as sugars (like in donuts and candy) or starches (like in potato chips), these bacteria break down these components. The processed carbohydrates create acids that bind to the plaque already on our teeth and eat away at the precious enamel of our teeth that protect us from infection and keep your teeth strong.
Treating a Cavity
Cavities are normally treated by your dentist with fillings. In this form of treatment the holes or weakened areas in tooth enamel are filled (hence the name) with various substances to reinforce the exterior of the tooth. This halts the process of decay by blocking entrance of bacteria and acids to the compromised part of the tooth. Fillings can be constructed of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer. Dr. Gotwalt will consult with you to decide which route would work best for your teeth.
Preventing a Cavity
As with most things, it’s easier to prevent the cavities than to fix them once they develop. Drs. Gotwalt recommend brushing after meals or at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste to clear away the plaque that may have formed. They also recommend cutting down on intake carbohydrates and boosting your fluid intake. A dry mouth will accelerate the acidic breakdown of your teeth. Daily flossing can help remove the plaque and prevent the formation of cavities in those hard to reach spaces between your teeth. The most important preventative step is regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. For those patients in the Lititz PA area, call 717-220-4651 or schedule an appointment online to consult with Dr. Sara or John Gotwalt. If you think you may have a cavity or cavities or would just like to schedule a cleaning to help prevent them, contact us today!