Know what causes tooth decay

A cavity is essentially a hole that extends through the enamel of a tooth. It forms over time, and the process can be interrupted, sometimes even reversed.

Hundreds of strains of bacteria thrive in the warm, moist environment of the mouth. Some are beneficial, but others are harmful to teeth and gums. They form a sticky film of plaque that traps molecules of food. Bacteria are living organisms. They feast on sugars and starches in the plaque, then excrete toxins that irritate gums and acids that erode important minerals in tooth enamel.

Winning the battle against tooth decay

Saliva naturally contains calcium and phosphate that allows tooth enamel to repair itself. Supplemental fluoride helps to prevent the attack of acids and the resulting loss of minerals. Fluoride inhibits the ability of bacteria to create acids. Many communities provide fluoridated water, and most toothpaste contains fluoride. If we feel that your child’s teeth would benefit from additional fluoride, we may recommend painless, brief fluoride treatments.

The most important thing you can do to help your child fight cavities, is to instill a lifelong habit of good oral hygiene. That means eating nutritious foods, limiting sugary snacks and acidic soft drinks, brushing properly after meals, and flossing before bedtime every day.

Remember that you don’t fight this battle alone. Regular (at least twice a year) dental check-ups give us a chance to clean your child’s teeth with professional instruments and patience. We check for cavities and other oral issues, catching them early when treatment can be most successful.

If you have any questions about preventing cavities, don’t hesitate to contact us today at (503) 692-3747.