Scared of cavities? Do not give it a chance. Dental cavities are a result of tooth decay. After common cold, tooth decay is the most common health disorder in both children and adults. S. Mutans, the bacteria that plays a major role in development of tooth decay is responsible for one of the most common infectious diseases in humans: Tooth Decay.
Existing dental cavities require treatment. If they are not treated, they can lead to tooth loss. Tooth decay can result from the build-up of plaque on the tooth surface. To prevent decay, plaques should be prevented or removed thoroughly. Removal of plaques is done by through brushing. Factors that contribute to occurrence of tooth decay are: bad diet, bad oral hygiene and avoiding regular dental check-ups.
Dental cavities, also known as caries, are a common dental disorder. It is a dental disease that may affect anybody at any age. It can cause tooth damage that results into severe toothache and even tooth loss. To prevent it, it’s better to know a bit about it and then look for remedies or solutions. When asked from the dental experts of a Mt Gravatt Dental clinic, they gave the following solutions that are easy to follow and are known to provide protection against development of dental cavities.
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What are Dental Cavities and How Do They Form?
Cavities are tiny holes that get into the solid surface of the teeth. These holes are caused by a bacteria that creates acid by fermenting sugar. Perhaps sugar is the major culprit. Sugar found in candy, lollies, milk, soft drinks, food and even cough drops can create a material called glucan which bacteria use to cling to the tooth surface. Overtime, the acid produced from the bacterial activity on the tooth surface, dissolves the enamel of the tooth and causes dental cavities.
What Causes Dental Cavities?
The most common bacteria found inside dental cavities are S. Mutans. 98% of the world population carries this bacterium in their mouth. If you don’t have these bacteria in your mouth you should consider yourself blessed. These bacteria are commonly found in saliva and plays a significant role in the formation of dental caries. The number of the S. Mutans bacteria in the mouth (count) may be used to predict caries activity. S. Mutans are not present in the mouth of infants at birth but it has been detected when baby teeth start to emerge. Many investigations have confirmed that S. Mutans can be transmitted from mother to infant.
- Mutans are considered to be the causative agent for tooth decay. They can ferment a variety of sugars and produce a large amount of acid. They also produce Glucan. Glucan is adherent and water-insoluble. Glucan adheres to the tooth surface and forms a sticky film on the surface of the tooth. This sticky film is known by plaque. The plaque provides an environment for S. Mutans to live in and feed on food sugar, producing harmful acids that remove minerals from the tooth enamel and damage our teeth.
Here are five ways that help prevent cavities. They are simple to follow and quite fruitful.
1. Good Healthy Diet – Do not Feed the Nasty Bacteria
Sugar provides energy for bacteria that live on the tooth surface. Both children and adult should avoid frequent consumption of sugar. Sugary drinks are not good for our health because they add extra amount of sugar to our daily diet that our body does not need. Daily consumption of the following sugary drinks for example can both cause tooth decay and weight gain problems:
- Sweetened iced tea
- Sweetened yogurt drinks
- Sweetened coconut water
- Sweetened non-dairy milks
- Energy drinks
- Sweetened coffee
- Sweetened Smoothies
Avoid feeding S. Mutans with sugar and cut down on consumption of sugary food or drinks. According to World Health Organization consumption of sugary food or drinks increases the risk factor for development of tooth cavities.
Brush your mouth thoroughly after every drink or meal to wash the sugars away from your teeth. Use of sugar-free chewing gums after meals stimulates the flow of saliva and raises the pH balance in the mouth. In other words, the increased flow of saliva reduces the acid from bacteria.
2. Using Fluoride for Protection Against Cavities
Fluoride is used in preventive dentistry because it can manage dental caries. It plays a significant role in preventing cavities helping the enamel get re-mineralized. Research over the years proved that brushing teeth regularly with a fluoride toothpaste helps in preventing cavities.
Brushing twice a day with fluoride tooth paste has been recommended as a protective measure against dental cavities.
Fluoride makes the tooth more resistant against acid attack and hence helps prevent tooth decay. Fluoride can reverse early decay because it can re-mineralise early decays caused by acids. Public water fluoridation has reduced the number of cavities in children over the past 50 years. In areas with no access to water fluoridation, your dentist may recommend fluoride supplements at the correct dose.
Strong concentration of Fluoride rinse requires dentist prescription but less concentrated ones are available over-the-counter. Excess ingestion of fluoride can result in brown discolouration in the tooth enamel. Therefore, you should always follow manufacturer’s instructions or your dentist prescription and always supervise children for Fluoride consumption because excess fluoride can be toxic.
3. Vitamin D for Strong Oral Structures
Vitamin D can boost calcium metabolism in the body. Vitamin D can help with the absorption of calcium and phosphate from the food intake and help with the mineralization of the enamel and dentine. The relationship between food and cavities are proved through extensive research. Food that are high in vitamin D and calcium, like yogurt, milk and salmon can enhance the health of the oral tissues and prevent cavities especially in children.
Vitamin D also has anti-inflammatory roles in the oral cavity. Therefore, deficiency in vitamin D may allow bacteria growth in the mouth and lead to inflammations and gingivitis. When the teeth structure is week and the environment is suitable for bacteria growth, our teeth will be at higher risks of dental cavities.
4. Protective Benefits of Fissure Seals against Cavities
Back teeth have grooves and pits in the chewing surface. Bacteria can settle in theses grooves and fissures. The grooves are a bit hard to clean with a tooth brush and cavities occur easily in children and also in adults. To break this process, dentists may recommend fissure seals. Sealants are very effective in prevention of dental cavities.
The grooves and depressions of the back chewing teeth are sealed using special sealants to form a barrier against the formation of plaque or acids. Sealants can be a clear or shaded resin and are usually applied to the teeth in a single procedure. Sealants are known to provide long lasting protection against the formation of cavities in the back teeth. It is recommended to seal the pits before a dental decay occurs. Application of sealants is a non-invasive and painless procedure but if your child has a bit of dental anxiety, you can use this guide to lessen your child’s dental anxiety.
Before the application of the sealants, your dentist may need to clean the surface of the tooth thoroughly. According to Pure Dentistry, when sealants are applied and bonded to the tooth surface properly, they can provide a high level of protection against cavities on the chewing surfaces.
Back teeth account for a large percentage of the number of cavities in the mouth. Therefore, dentists usually recommend sealants as soon as the permanent chewing teeth erupt. They are expected to erupt at the age of 6, 12 and 18 (approximately). This shows the importance of regular dental check-ups in children because the dentist can seal the new tooth and stop formation of cavities in back teeth before they start.
Sealants do not last for ever and they require examination. When the sealants wear off, they need to be replaced.
5. Sugar-Free Lollipops containing Licorice Root Extract
Sugar-Free liquorice root extract in some lollipops can eliminate S. Mutans, effectively stopping release of harmful cavity-causing acids produced by these bacteria. Dental experts report that about 15 milligrams of liquorice powder per lollipop can kill most of S. Mutans in the mouth within 10 minutes.
Licorice or Liquorice root extract is an extract from the Chinese Licorice plant also known as (Glycyrrhiza Uralensis) that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine. The chemical compounds in dried Licorice root have antibacterial properties that can reduce and inhibit the growth of cavity causing bacteria in the mouth. Sugar-Free Licorice lollipops can be used to significantly reduce the number of cavity causing bacteria in the mouth to fight the bacteria which are responsible for dental decays.
liquorice root extract is beneficial and it has been demonstrated that it can help with reduction of tooth decay in school children. But similar to fluoride it should be used per instructions because excessive consumption can cause Licorice poisoning and many other toxic effects in the body. If you are breast feeding or pregnant it is best to consult with your doctor about liquorice consumption and find the safe levels of liquorice intake for your conditions.
To prevent liquorice toxicity in the body, the consumption amount should be monitored. When you have a high blood pressure or other heart conditions, you should avoid consuming large amounts of liquorice. Excessive consumption of Liquorice can further heighten blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke. Make sure you consult with your heart doctor if you decide to use liquorice and find the safe levels of liquorice consumption for you.
Bottom Line On Dental Cavity
Methods described above are preventative methods. They are not a cure for total eradication of cavities. These methods are helpful ways to significantly reduce the chance of cavities from occurring. Use these methods in conjunction with oral health maintenance methods, e.g. regular dental check-ups, daily brushing and flossing. Preventive methods above do not cure existing cavities in your teeth. If there are cavities in your mouth, you should seek dental treatment from a professional dentist.