Our teeth are vital to preserving our looks, our health and our happiness. They give us our smiles, which are a big part of making a good first impression when we meet new people. Our teeth also help us eat nutritious food to stay healthy and strong. We humans grow two sets of teeth in our lives: our primary (or baby) teeth and secondary (or adult) teeth. Once your adult teeth have finished coming in, usually by age twelve or thirteen, it’s essential to care for them properly because there will be no more natural replacements. The most common threat to a long, healthy life for your teeth are cavities.
What Is A Cavity?
Decay on our tooth enamel can cause it to weaken and break open, exposing the sensitive soft tissues and nerves within. These openings — called cavities — expose your tooth to bacteria and possibly cause infection. Cavities can cause your tooth to become sensitive to temperature and even make chewing properly difficult. If chewing is painful, you may not get all the nutrients you need. After the common cold, cavities are the ailment with which people are most frequently diagnosed.
But what causes this insidious threat to our smiles? And, when we have cavities, how do we fix them? More importantly, what can we do to prevent them in the first place? Dr. Brent Engelberg, the respected dentist behind AH Smiles in Arlington Heights, IL has the answers.
How Do Cavities Form?
Even as you read this, there are bacteria living in your mouth. They are mostly harmless but can cause tooth decay if the bacteria is not kept in check. Food particles and the saliva in our mouths combine to form plaque which is the bacteria’s favorite food, especially when it includes sugars or starches. When this plaque forms in places that are hard for us to reach with our toothbrushes such as in between teeth and right at the gum line, the bacteria will feast on it and continue eating right down through the enamel.
How Are Cavities Treated?
The most commonly utilized treatments for cavities are fillings, in-lays, on-lays and root canals. For fillings, the holes or weakened areas in tooth enamel are reinforced with various substances to deny any further bacteria and acids access to the weak part of the tooth enamel, stopping the decay in its’ tracks. Fillings can be made of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer but Dr. Engelberg mostly uses composite resin fillings.
If your tooth decay is severe enough, you may need a root canal. A root canal therapy becomes necessary when tooth decay has reached the inside of the tooth — the pulp chamber. Root canals have a frightening reputation but they are a way to effectively remove tooth decay, preserving your natural tooth as much as possible.
It can frequently be more difficult to repair something broken than it is to prevent it from breaking. This is also true with cavities. Preventing cavities is much simpler, less expensive, and more comfortable than treatment and it is also less time-consuming.
Dr. Engelberg recommends brushing after meals or at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste to remove the plaque that may have formed on your teeth. Flossing at least once daily will help remove plaque between your teeth and just below the gum line. Reducing sugar and carbohydrates in your diet and staying properly hydrated are also strongly recommended in order to slow down the breakdown of your enamel.
The most important step to take towards preventing cavities and all dental problems is to schedule regular check-ups and cleanings with your dentist.
Scheduling Your Dental Check-up in Arlington Heights, IL
For those patients in Arlington Heights, IL, Dr. Engelberg and AH Smiles would be happy to help you with a filling or any dental need. If you think you may be suffering from cavities or would just like a cleaning to prevent them, contact us online or call (847) 230-9703 today