The Most Common Reason People Think They Visit the Dentist (and What to Do About It)

The Most Common Reason People Think They Visit the Dentist (and What to Do About It)

Decay (cavities) is probably the most common reason people think they visit the dentist. Decay (medical term: caries) starts with acid levels in the mouth dissolving tooth enamel. This dissolving of enamel happens more frequently in areas where plaque (bacteria) resides. These areas are most commonly:

  • Pits and fissures (chewing surfaces of back teeth) in between the teeth where the teeth contact each other
  • Around rough areas such as pre-existing dental work
  • Along the gum line of the teeth

To prevent decay we must:

  1. Reduce the acid (plaque)
  2. Reduce retentive areas where plaque collects
  3. Make the tooth stronger and more resistant to dissolving acid

Caries (cavities) can be minimized throughout a person’s life by strengthening the tooth structure. This means:

  1. Fluoride systemically throughout childhood, either by drinking fluoridated water or fluoride supplements (ages as early as 6 months). Using topical fluoride; either varnish or rinse and toothpaste (varnish is better for high decay rates)
  2. Re-mineralizing products to reverse caries (for seniors and high decay rate)
  3. Practicing good oral hygiene to remove plaque; brushing, flossing, waterpik (throughout lifetime)
  4. Professional visits with a dental hygienist and dentist (starting 6 months after 1st tooth and throughout lifetime)
  5. Sealing small pits and fissures on back teeth so the caries don’t get started in those areas (age 6+)
  6. Restore caries when they are small
  7. Lastly, restore teeth using durable methods, so that the restored tooth can last a lifetime

Practising some or all of these will reduce the chances of one of the reasons teeth get extracted: decay (caries).

What If I Already Have a Cavity?

“A cavity” once caries has cavitated (broken through the enamel), must be restored by removing decay and replacing the lost tooth structure with restorative matter. This is commonly known as a filling. The best approach is to catch cavities while they are small. Early diagnosis is better.