Cavities develop after repeated acid attacks on your tooth's enamel. Over time, the enamel is eroded and a hole, or cavity, develops. Dental plaque, or bacteria, on your teeth combined with starches and sugars in your foods form the acid that attacks your enamel.
Repeated acid attacks cause your teeth to lose the minerals that protect them. A white spot may appear on your tooth where this happens, which an early sign of tooth decay.
At this point, you are able to reverse the damage. Your enamel can be repaired by introducing fluoride or from the minerals that are naturally found in your saliva. This is why people who suffer from a dry mouth often experience tooth decay. They don't produce enough saliva.
How You Avoid Them
Fluoride is a mineral that when introduced to your teeth, it can replenish your tooth and prevent a cavity from progressing. It also reduces the ability for bacteria in your mouth to make acid. You can add fluoride many ways:
- Drink water with fluoride added
- Use a toothpaste with fluoride at least twice per day
- Ask your dentist to apply a fluoride gel to your teeth, prescribe fluoride tablets, or recommend a fluoride mouth rinse.
Bottled water does not contain fluoride. If you drink bottled water exclusively, ask your dentist to recommend one of the prescription treatments noted above.
Your diet is another factor. Remember, it is important to keep sugars and starches at a minimum in order to prevent bacteria from forming the acid that destroys your enamel and creates cavities.
Limit between meal snacking and if you do need a snack, choose foods that are natural teeth cleansers such as apples, pineapples, strawberries, raisins, broccoli, and cheese. An added bonus is that in addition to helping to keep your teeth clean, they are also natural teeth whiteners.
You can also ask your dentist about sealants, which are thin plastic covers for your molars. This will prevent food and bacteria from getting stuck in the pits and grooves of these chewing teeth.
Follow these directives and see your dentist regularly, and you will give your teeth maximum protection against cavities.