Yes, we know….we’re not always your favorite people to visit.
By “us,” we mean your dentists. We know that given the choice, you’d sooner be sitting at home in relaxation, instead of taking your spare time to drop in to see your dental care provider.
When your dentist finally comes in to check your oral health, you may even be imagining that maniacal Little Shop of Horrors dentist singing, “I thrill when I drill a bicuspid!”
But you know, we’d much prefer not to be drilling anything when it comes right down to it… We’d much prefer for you to be able to rest at home, too, happy and content with those shiny pearly-whites. A clean tooth is a healthy tooth. The trick is actually getting your teeth to stay clean. It’s actually not that easy.
The First Line of Defense: Prevention
A cavity, or dental caries (the technical term), is just a hole in your tooth. How does this get started?
A bacteria called streptococcus mutans causes cavities. This bacteria is present in all our mouths. Each time sugars enter the mouth, that gets broken down by s. mutans, which secretes acid as a byproduct. The acid then begins to soften and dissolve the enamel–the first protective layer on your tooth and the strongest substance our bodies can make! The soft spots provide a place for bacteria to reside.
As soon as the bacteria find a place to hang out, it gets much harder to clean them off with typical dental care like brushing, flossing, and rinsing. And so long as the bacteria is there, it will continue to dissolve the teeth, eventually leading to a cavity.
What about Sugar?
It´s impossible to eliminate all sugar from our diet; even healthy foods like grains and fruit are broken into simple sugars. But there are ways to minimize the effects of eating sugars.
As soon as food enters the mouth, it gets broken into simple sugars, and acid production begins. That process lasts 30 minutes, starting from your last sugar intake.
Our tip: If you want to eat some sour Skittles, it’s better for you to eat all of it at once instead of prolonging the snack. Also, it’s better to eat sugar with meals because you’ll be producing more saliva, which washes away the acids.
“I don’t want the drill!”
The good news is that even if you get a cavity, there are ways to treat it aside from drilling. If your cavity is in the outermost layer of the tooth (the enamel), then we can reverse the process by having you use Flouride.
There’s a reason why the Center for Disease Control (CDC) called Flouride one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century. It is a natural, safe way to strengthen enamel, and can be found in your drinking water, toothpaste, and most rinses.
You’ll see how important it is for you to come to your dentist regularly so that we can stop the tooth decay at the beginning of the process, before it becomes more difficult to reverse. We promise we won’t unleash that Little Shop of Horrors guy on you….
Get an oral health evaluation today by calling us at Penn Dental Medicine: 215-898-8965.