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How to Prevent Cavities from Getting Worse

Models of white teeth on a black dental tray.
Cavities are a common issue in both kids and adults. The CDC says that about one in five kids ages 5 to 11 has at least one untreated cavity, and 27% of Americans older than 20 have untreated cavities. Unfortunately, if a cavity is not treated, it can develop into an infection called a tooth abscess, which requires more extensive treatment and possibly removal of the tooth.

Here’s some more information on how you can prevent cavities from getting worse and avoid further complications.

How Does a Cavity Happen?

A dental cavity, also known as tooth decay or caries, occurs when part of your tooth begins to decay. Cavities can form very quickly or develop slowly over time depending on their location, the level of acid exposure, and the health and thickness of the tooth enamel.

Cavities form when acid from foods in your diet chips away layers of the teeth, leading to staining, pitting, sensitivity, and pain. Causes of decay may be due to poor nutrition or hygiene habits, including:

Image of young boy practicing brushing the teeth of a stuffed animal in the dentist office.

  • Eating excessive sugary or highly processed foods
  • Not brushing or flossing your teeth
  • Smoking
  • Not getting adequate amounts of fluoride
  • Mouth breathing, which contributes to dry mouth that can increase bacteria growth

Not all cavities are caused by lifestyle choices. Some are the result of one’s available diet, natural biological processes, aging, and even pregnancy.

Cavity side effects and complications can include:

  • Pain
  • Abscesses
  • Swelling
  • Eating difficulties
  • Malnutrition

The Best Cavity Treatments to Prevent Cavities From Getting Worse

Dental professionals know how to prevent cavities from getting worse and offer some easy solutions to stop them in their tracks. Here are two of the most common treatment options:

Option 1: Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)

 Image of female adult patient sitting in dental chair while dentist is showing models of teeth.

SDF is a desensitizing agent that has recently gained prominence as a low-cost, easy-to-apply treatment that helps stop tooth decay. Current studies have found that a possible side effect of SDF on children—even young children—is possible dark stains left on the teeth. Your dentist will discuss your child’s medical history and perform a thorough exam to determine whether SDF is safe and beneficial. If recommended, current best practices recommend applying SDF biannually to prevent decay from spreading.

Although SDF is used mostly for children, there may be cases when adults can benefit from the treatment as well.

Option 2: Getting a Filling

Fillings are the most common and durable method of cavity care. The typical American has three dental fillings, and one in four Americans has 11 or more dental fillings. In addition to preventing further damage and tooth loss, fillings also reduce the possibility of pain and infection. Having cavities filled is a simple and painless procedure done in your dentist’s office.

Types of Fillings

There are several common types of fillings, each with benefits and downsides. At Newtown Dentistry, we offer:

  • Composite or resin fillings, which use a glass or quartz filler and can be made to match the color of your tooth. They are durable and well-suited to filling small to midsize cavities.
  • Ceramic fillings (usually porcelain), which can closely match the original appearance of the tooth and are less likely to stain than composite fillings.
  • Glass Ionomer fillings, which are a blend of acrylic and glass that actually releases fluoride to help protect teeth. They are less durable than other options and may need to be replaced in as few as five years.

How To Prevent A Cavity

Prevention is always the best medicine, and that includes dental care. You can’t reverse the decay that has already occurred, but you can take steps to prevent cavity formation and keep the decay from getting worse, including:

  • Brushing and flossing. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and after meals. Floss daily.
  • Changing your diet to avoid cavities. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, and eat foods that help clean your teeth, like fiber-rich vegetables and fruit.
  • Using sealants. Dentists can apply sealant, a plastic coating, to vulnerable teeth to prevent decay.
  • Treating your teeth with fluoride. A home fluoride rinse and fluoride treatments at the dentist’s office will strengthen tooth enamel and make teeth more resistant to cavities.
  • Seeing your dentist regularly. Keep up with regular dental cleanings to keep teeth healthy and to get ahead of early cavities.

The team at Newtown Dentistry is committed to helping your family keep their teeth strong and healthy. We are experts in how to prevent cavities from getting worse.

Whether you suspect you have a cavity, or you want to get started on the path to healthy teeth, we invite you to make Newtown Dentistry your home for dental care. We offer specialized services both for adults and children, in a welcoming, friendly environment. Request an appointment today!

  • AUTHOR

    Newtown Dentistry

  • DATE

    January 25, 2023

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