Often motivated by fear or a lack of time, a few brave souls try treating and preventing tooth decay through at-home methods they discovered on the Internet.
If you’re one to take your dental health into your own hands, you are to be commended for your initiative. But a word of caution is in order as most DIY dental remedies come at a steeper price than what you’d pay in a dental office.
Preventing Decay With Diet
Certain dental health advocates point to virtually cavity-free civilizations that don’t eat sugar as a sign that the correct diet can eliminate the need for fillings.
Cavities start when tooth enamel is demineralized by acids. These acids do come from broken-down sugars we eat. But actual tooth decay is propagated by bacteria found in every single human’s mouth.
As of yet, no human has been successfully in totally killing off these cavity-causing germs. Starving the bacteria through a strict low-carb diet can certainly help. But it isn’t always practical to go to dieting extremes which may cost a lot of money and time and impact your family’s nutritional health.
What About Oil-Pulling?
There are no scientifically documented benefits that oil-pulling will reduce decay. If you find that you enjoy the practice, that’s fine, you’re probably not in harm’s way. Just don’t let the oil-pulling craze distract you from methods that are proven to work: brushing, flossing, and fluoride.
DIY Filling Kits
These kits only provide temporary relief and protection for your tooth but should never be used to forestall getting professional tooth restoration treatment such as a composite filling or a dental crown. The cavity can still spread, potentially reaching a point of abscess.
Talk with your local dentist to learn some practical steps you can take at home to prevent decay.
Posted on behalf of:
Preston Sherry Dental Associates
6134 Sherry Ln
Dallas, TX 75225
You may have some minor tooth pain or sensitivity and wonder if you have a cavity, or perhaps your dentist told you that you had a cavity that needed to be ‘filled’ and you were wondering what really caused this ‘hole in your tooth’. This article will help explain what a cavity is and how to prevent them in the future.
A cavity results from tooth decay. Tooth decay causes the enamel of your tooth to be destroyed. Enamel is the outer layer of your teeth. Almost anyone can get a cavity, although they are more common in children and adults also get cavities as they age. As the tooth decays and enamel is destroyed a tiny hole appears in your tooth. It is this hole that causes pain and sensitivity. Most cavities are restored by placing a dental filling. Severe tooth decay may require more extensive procedures such as placement of a crown or cap.
The cause of tooth decay is always a formation of plaque on your teeth. Plaque most commonly happens after eating or drinking sweet and sugary things that leave a sticky film of bacteria on your teeth. These bacteria will cause an acid to form and this is what destroys the tooth enamel.
The easiest way to remove the bacteria that causes plaque is to brush regularly, use dental floss at least once a day, and to limit sweet and sugar laden foods and drinks. If you are going to have something sweet to eat for dessert or as a treat, immediately brush after eating to help eliminate the formation of plaque. For children, sealants are a way to help decrease the risk of cavities by decreasing the amount of plaque formation on back teeth. Sealants apply a plastic protective covering over large tooth surfaces. The most important thing you can continue to do is to have regular dental check-ups and cleanings to have your teeth examined and cleaned. These routine examinations will help detect cavities before further damage occurs, and catch things that are small.
Recent generations have benefitted greatly from fluoride use as a means to decrease overall decay rates. Fluoride works to reduce dental decay by remineralizing any areas of the tooth that have become decalcified. While many people think of fluoride as being in the water supply or from the dental office, fluoride is also found naturally in some foods. The FDA has approved the use of fluoride for preventive care purposes.
Most over the counter toothpastes contain fluoride. Small children who are unable to rinse or expectorate should use a training toothpaste that is fluoride-free, to prevent excess consumption of the mineral.
Supplemental fluoride treatments may be necessary for people who are at an increased risk for decay. Examples of increased risks include:
In-office fluoride application is usually done with a gel or varnish. Varnish is much thicker and is brushed onto the teeth. The low viscosity increases the contact time and makes it more effective for decay reduction. Most dentists prefer to only apply topical fluoride up to the age of 14 while permanent teeth are still erupting and forming. In some cases at-risk patients may continue to need fluoride applications.
Prescription strength fluoride may be needed for patients with persistent dental decay needs. Only a small pea-sized amount is needed and is applied, usually in the evening, after normal brushing and flossing. It is recommended to not eat or drink for at least 30 minutes after the application. Routine use can greatly decrease the risk of persistent tooth decay.
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