Dental cavities are caused by tooth decay. Left untreated, these small holes can grow, exposing the deeper layers of your teeth and causing you much pain in the process.  It’s among the most common dental problems worldwide and can affect both young and old.

If you have cavities and are wondering if you can get rid of them, or want to know the best way to manage them, you’ve come to the right place.

How A Cavity Develops

To understand how to manage cavities, you must know the tooth decay process and how cavities form in the first place. This will help you manage your oral heath better and prevent future cavities.

Your mouth—including your tongue, teeth, and saliva—contain bacteria. There are many types, but only some of them are responsible for causing tooth decay. The ones that cause tooth decay are present in the plaque that forms and sticks to your teeth. As they feed on food leftovers in your mouth, they produce acids. The acid wears down the enamel (top layer) of your teeth, resulting in cavities.

If you consume food rich in starches and sugars on a regular basis, you’re giving the bacteria an opportunity to produce a lot more acid. With more acid eating away at your enamel, tooth decay increases rapidly and cavities form more easily.

One of the first signs of early decay is a white spot on your tooth. If you notice this, there’s still time to reverse the decay through minerals, such as fluoride found in toothpaste and calcium and phosphate in your saliva.

However, if more minerals are lost, and if the rate of loss is higher than the rate of mineral replacement, the decay forms a cavity where the enamel has been damaged. At this point, the damage is so significant that the dentist will have to add a filing to the cavity.

Below, you’ll learn how to avoid cavities from forming on your teeth.

Use Fluoride

Fluoride is an important mineral that we need on a regular basis. It’s found in toothpaste and can halt and even reverse the process of tooth decay.

It does this by preventing mineral loss as well as slowing down the rate of acid production.

One of the best sources of fluoride is toothpaste. The easiest way to fight tooth decay is by regularly brushing with a fluoride toothpaste. It is best to brush your teeth after every meal. This will help prevent the bacteria from using the sugars in the meals to make acids.

You can also use a fluoride mouth rinse.

Make Flossing A Habit

Granted, flossing is not the most fun activity and many of us don’t enjoy it. However, it’s crucial to ensure your teeth are cleaned from all sides. Each tooth has five sides. When brushing, you only have access to three sides: the top, the inner side (the side facing your throat) and the outer side (The side facing your lips).

But what about the sides that are out of your toothbrush’s reach—the sides flanked by other teeth? This is where bacteria can hide and cause tooth decay. For that reason, you must floss regularly to prevent plaque buildup in between your teeth. When flossing, be careful not to cut your gums with the floss. It’s best to do it slowly and carefully.

Oil Pulling

An effective home remedy for getting rid of tooth decay is oil pulling. This is an ancient method that involves putting a tablespoon of coconut oil or sesame oil in your mouth and then swishing the same way you would with mouthwash.

This method is effective against plaque that develops between your teeth. It can also help mineralize the teeth, thus preventing tooth decay. It’s best to remove plaque by brushing your teeth before it turns into tartar, which is a lot harder to remove. To learn more about the difference between plaque and tartar, visit this link: https://www.grovecitydentalofblackfoot.com/whats-the-difference-between-tartar-and-plaque/

If you don’t have mouthwash, do oil pulling with coconut oil regularly.

Consider Dental Sealants

Cavities often occur in both adults and children on their premolars and molars. These teeth contain pits and grooves which help break down food, but the same pits and grooves provide ideal areas for bacteria to feed on leftover food. These areas are harder to reach when brushing your teeth.

This is where a dental sealant comes in. It is a thin plastic coating painted on the surfaces of the molars and premolars that helps to cover the pits and grooves.

As a result, bacteria cannot hide there and cause damage to the teeth.

Check The Frequency Of Eating Food

Usually, the minerals in your saliva would be sufficient to combat plaque build-up and to replace lost minerals in your mouth to protect and strengthen the enamel coatings on your teeth.

But consuming food regularly, especially sugary foods, causes bacteria to produce rapidly and this cause more acid to wear down the enamel. This causes quicker loss of minerals than your saliva can replace. Therefore, you should be mindful not only of what you eat but also when you eat. Maintaining healthy eating habits and keeping a toothbrush or mouthwash with you at all times will help protect your teeth against cavities.

Use Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera is particularly effective as it can kill the harmful bacteria in your mouth, drastically reducing your risk of getting dental cavities.

Aloe Vera tooth gel contains anti-bacterial properties which can help reduce the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth.

Vitamin D Supplements

Supplementing your diet with vitamin D can help re-mineralize your teeth. This can be beneficial in slowing down or even completely reversing the onset of tooth decay.

Chewing On Licorice Root

Licorice root also contains anti-bacterial properties. Certain elements of the licorice root can target the bacteria found in plaque.

Regularly chewing on licorice root will help keep bacteria numbers down and thus help protect your teeth against decay. That said, pregnant women should avoid licorice.

When To See The Dentist

While you can brush your teeth regularly with dental toothpaste and use the home remedies discussed above, it’s still important to visit your dentist regularly for checkups.

The dentist will make a closer observation and advice you on the best course of action. After all, not all cavities are going to result in pain.

In case the dentist notices signs of tooth decay, there are a number of options available to you. These include:

  • Depending on the level of tooth decay, the dentist may recommend fluoride treatment. This involves treating your teeth and mouth with more fluoride than you would normally find in a regular toothpaste.
  • Alternatively, if tooth decay has managed to penetrate the enamel, the dentist may fill the cavity to halt the tooth decay. This can’t reverse the damage already done, but it will prevent further damage and possible tooth loss.
  • If you have extensive decay, the dentist may place a crown on the affected tooth.
  • A root canal is another option. However, this is only necessary when the decay has reached the innermost layer of the tooth.
  • Lastly. if the tooth is severely decayed, the dentist may suggest removing the tooth completely.

How To Brush Your Teeth Properly

Is there a proper way to brush your teeth to ensure maximum protection?

Yes, there is!

Make sure that the toothbrush you use has soft bristles. These bristles are flexible and can reach those hard-to-reach areas. Also, when using the toothbrush, apply gentle pressure, otherwise the bristles will bend too much and lose their effectiveness.

Next, turn the toothbrush against the gums at a 45-degree angle and use gentle yet long strokes to brush the teeth. Make sure to brush all sides of your teeth. Even then, it’s easy to miss the inside of the front teeth. You can, however, get to these by using the tip of the brush and using an up and down motion.

Don’t forget to brush your tongue. A lot of bacteria will reside on the top of your tongue. By brushing the tongue, you can help get rid of the tooth-damaging bacteria.

Remember that your toothbrush will experience wear and tear after regular use. Be sure, therefore, to replace it after 3 or 4 months.

Final Word

It’s not impossible to prevent tooth decay and cavities. With small lifestyle changes and proper oral hygiene, you can easily protect your teeth. The methods mentioned above are not a remedy for existing cavities. However, they can treat tooth decay at the onset and even help reverse it.

Regular dentist visits will help you detect dental cavities early and treat them. If you have a cavity, the dentist will do a thorough inspection and decide on the best type of treatment. Less severe cavities can be treated with fillings. On the other hand, if the cavity is severe and has reached the innermost layer of the tooth, the dentist may do a root canal or remove the tooth.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "How To Avoid Cavities On Your Teeth," in Medicalopedia, September 1, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/9226/how-to-avoid-cavities-on-your-teeth/].