When it's time to see the dentist, do you try to cram a year's worth of oral hygiene into the last few days? While the last minute brushing may make you feel better, it can't take the place of good everyday habits. Pay attention to your teeth all year long and you're much more likely to get a clean bill of dental health on your visit. And consistent dental care does more than just keep your dentist happy, it also helps prevent dental problems associated with tooth decay, or dental caries, also known as cavities.
Your parents warned you that too much sugar causes dental cavities, and it turns out they were right ... sort of. More accurately, the bacteria in your mouth live off the sugars in your food and produce acids that slowly wear down the surfaces of your teeth, making them more prone to dental caries.
So yes, Mom and Dad, avoiding sugary foods is often helpful in preventing tooth decay, but you can't completely cut sugar out of your diet. That's why it's also important to decrease the amount of time that sugar sits on your teeth by brushing regularly. By giving those acids less time to weaken your teeth, you can ensure that you spend less time in the dental chair.
During your dental appointment, your dentist or dental hygienist will examine your teeth for dental caries using a pick and mirror. A dental X-ray may also be necessary. If dental caries are detected, your dentist will recommend the appropriate dental treatment.
In between your regular dental appointments, you can also do your part to prevent cavities by being on the lookout for signs of tooth decay. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Chalky, white spot anywhere on your tooth
- Increased sensitivity to heat and cold
- Visible holes or indentions in teeth
- Toothache or pain when biting that can't be relieved by toothache remedies
- Tooth discoloration or soft spots on tooth surface