Taking care of your teeth is arguably one of the most annoying parts of being a kid, and one of the most important parts of being an adult. Without proper dental hygiene, you leave yourself at risk for cavities and other dental/gum diseases. Cavities are extremely painful, and if left untreated or allowed to worsen can cause serious health problems for the patient. Untreated, cavities can cause tooth loss, pus-filled abscesses, changes in tooth position, and more.
Your best bet for avoiding cavities is to practice proper dental hygiene and to follow some basic rules of thumb. Teeth are a very important part of your body, and replacing them can be extremely painful and extremely expensive. In this article, we will cover some of the best (and easiest) ways to keep your mouth clean and free of cavities. Besides regularly visiting your dentist for checkups and cleanings, there are plenty of ways you can take control of protecting your dental health.
What are Cavities?
If you have never had a cavity, consider yourself lucky; these nasty little permanent holes in the hard layer of your tooth are tiny pockets of tooth decay brought on by a variety of life factors. These small spots of tooth decay, if left untreated, can begin to worsen and move inward to the sensitive and softer parts of your teeth. Once deep enough, a cavity will become extremely painful, and even create an abscess around the affected area.
Cavities can be visible pits or pockets in the teeth or may appear simply as small white spots on the outer surface. Though a cavity may not be readily apparent to the naked eye, if you have one, you may quickly be able to tell. Even a mild cavity can cause sensitivity in the tooth when chewing, drinking hot or cold drinks, consuming sugary foods/candies, or for no reason at all. More severe cases will cause deeper, more intense toothache, swelling, infection, pus around the tooth, or a change of color to black or brown as the tooth decays.
Treating a Cavity
Though an advanced cavity is irreversible, catching one in its early stages can help you avoid more extensive damage and in some cases, return your tooth to a comfortable and healthy state. If you are already experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, it is time to take a trip to your dentist. Here are some of the ways your dentist may treat your cavities:
- Fluoride Treatment: A cavity caught quickly enough may be treated with a simple fluoride treatment. This pain-free cavity-fighting method can sometimes reverse the effects of newly formed cavities, strengthening the outer enamel of the tooth.
- Fillings: Fillings are the most common treatment for cavities, and can be made from metal, tooth-colored resins, porcelain, etc.
- Root Canal: Left untreated, a cavity can move inward and affect the soft pulp of the interior of the tooth. In these cases, a root canal may be recommended in order to remove the diseased pulp and save the tooth. This process can be extremely painful but may save your natural tooth from needing to be pulled.
- Extractions: Eventually, cavities will cause enough damage to your tooth that it will require an extraction. This last-ditch effort involves removing the entire tooth. The space left behind must be filled with an implant or bridge in order to prevent your other teeth from shifting.
What Causes Cavities?
Everyone knows eating too much candy will lead to cavities, but what is really causing your teeth to decay right under your nose? The process of forming a cavity begins with the natural bacteria inside your mouth. When you eat foods that contain sugars or starches, the bacteria within your mouth use the sugars and starches to create acids. These acids attack your teeth, working to erode the outer layer of enamel and remove your tooth’s natural minerals.
In order to replenish the minerals in your teeth, your saliva contains natural minerals like calcium. Brushing and using fluoride rinses can also help replenish the minerals in your teeth, helping them fight against acids and decay. When you do not replenish the minerals in your teeth, cavities can begin to form. Repeat exposure to acid without regular dental hygiene can allow the acids to begin the process of decay, also known as the beginnings of a cavity.
Once destroyed, enamel cannot be repaired, but with consistent dental hygiene and a little extra care to avoid overloading your mouth with sugars, cavities are certainly avoidable. If you want to avoid not only the physical pain of cavities but the financial strain as well, follow these basic rules for keeping cavities at bay:
At the Dentist
First and foremost, we recommend you make regular visits to your dentist. Though an advanced cavity will definitely produce symptoms to let you know it is there, a newly forming or minor cavity may not present itself. Your dentist will be able to do a thorough examination of your teeth and identify any spots that may be of concern.
Besides prevention, early detection is the best and most direct way to tackle cavities. Regular visits to your dentist will help you avoid tooth and gum diseases, keep your overall dental costs down, and avoid the pain and discomfort of extractions, implants, and root canals oh my!
Dental Hygiene at Home
Once you have had your regular trip to the dentist, you can take your oral hygiene into your own hands! At home, it is your responsibility to keep good dental habits, and if you have kiddos, it is also your responsibility to teach them to have good dental habits. Regular, daily routines will help you and your kids remember to keep those pearly whites, well, pearly!
At Wowe Lifestyle, we work to make people’s daily routines easy, and eco-friendly. Like your teeth, too much of a good thing will harm the planet, which is why we create environmentally friendly alternatives to products you know, need, and love.
Toothbrushes, an important part of your at-home dental hygiene routine, are thrown away at a staggering rate of 1 billion per year in the US. Since plastic toothbrushes cannot be reused or recycled, these important dental devices end up piling up in landfills where they sit for thousands of years before beginning to break down. Like your teeth, the more bad stuff comes in contact with Earth, the weaker it becomes, and with plastic pollution not slowing down, Earth is under serious stress.
To combat plastic pollution, Wowe created the best thing since, well, toothbrushes! The Eco-Friendly and Natural Bamboo Toothbrush comes in adult and kid sizes, so every member of your family can enjoy a brushing experience that is clean, comfortable, and environmentally friendly!
Made from biodegradable and water-resistant bamboo, these toothbrushes are just as effective as traditional plastic toothbrushes, but won’t pollute the planet once you are done with them. Use yours twice a day or after every meal to reduce acid and sugar buildup between your teeth. Want to make sure you are getting every last morsel of sugar from between your teeth? Make it a habit to floss every time you brush!
Though Wowe loves flossing, we don’t love that traditional floss is made from lightweight but extremely durable nylon, a slippery plastic that cannot be recycled and is often found in the stomachs of sea creatures or wound around the mouths of wildlife. Nylon dental floss is bad for the environment, which is why Wowe created an eco-friendly alternative.
Made from natural, biodegradable materials, Wowe’s Natural Biodegradable Silk Dental Floss is the perfect floss alternative that will make you wonder why you didn’t switch sooner. Coated in natural candelilla wax for optimum sliding power, this floss is just as effective as traditional nylon varieties. Wowe’s floss also comes with a refillable metal cutter container, the perfect solution to traditional hard plastic packaging that had to be thrown away and replaced entirely.
Remember the bacteria we mentioned earlier? The stuff that turns your favorite snack into corrosive acids in your mouth? Eliminate even more bacteria, and prevent bad breath to boot by including a tongue scraper in your routine! These Metal Tongue Cleaners from Wowe come in stainless steel and copper varieties and are the perfect tool for warding off bad breath and keeping your mouth squeaky clean.
Food and Drink
Though we aren’t suggesting you cut out sugary foods altogether (it’s almost Halloween, after all!) we do suggest learning which foods and drinks can cause the most damage to your dental health. Understanding which foods are highest in starches and sugars can help you avoid overindulging in tooth decay inducing treats. Here are some of the foods and drinks you should avoid or consume in moderation to avoid cavities:
- Candy: Hard or sticky, candy is one of the number one cavity-causing culprits. Sticky candies can get lodged between teeth and are hard to remove entirely. Hard candies that need to be sucked on get plenty of time to coat your teeth and become acid. The longer these candies stay in your teeth, the more corrosive they become.
Next time you enjoy a piece of candy, be sure to brush your teeth thoroughly afterward.
- Starchy Food:Chips, crackers, soft bread, cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more...starchy foods that tend to get stuck between teeth are yet another cause of tooth decay.
- Soda:Already filled with acids, these super sugary drinks are a double-whammy of bad-for-your-teeth. With the acids working to wear away your tooth enamel before the sugars can even begin to do their work, soda is one of the leading causes of cavities in teens and young adults.