How Can Tooth Decay Be Prevented or Reversed?
At Premier Periodontics, our experienced team of doctors often see the effects of tooth decay on the teeth and gums of our patients in the Seattle, WA area, including those near Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Olympia, and Redmond.
Many of our patients ask us, “Can tooth decay be prevented or even reversed?” The answer is: Yes, but with a caveat.
What causes tooth decay?
Bacteria. The little microorganisms living happily in your mouth, feasting on the sugars from the foods and drinks you consume, are the culprits behind tooth decay and cavities. When they eat these sugars, the by-product of their digestion are acids that slowly dissolve tooth enamel. If patients don’t practice good oral hygiene with brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups, this mix of acids and sugars can cause a buildup of dental plaques that can eventually harden into difficult to remove tartar – not to mention further damaging the teeth.
Other factors that contribute to tooth decay include frequently eating sugary snacks and drinks, eating foods rich in carbohydrates (like bread), dry mouth, smoking, and not getting adequate fluoride in the diet or through treatments.
Symptoms of tooth decay often include:
Sharp tooth pain when eating or drinking something hot or cold
Pain when eating/drinking sugary foods/drinks
Spots on the teeth (white, brown, grey, yellow)
Visible holes in the teeth or holes you can feel
Swelling in the jaw or gums around the affected tooth
A consistent, unusual taste
Can tooth decay be reversed?
Yes, if it is caught early. Tooth decay is only reversible in the beginning stages when it has only affected the enamel or the hard outer protective coating of the tooth. Once tooth decay has progressed through the enamel into the softer, inner part of the tooth, it is irreversible. Good oral hygiene and regular checkups at Premier Periodontics in Bellevue, WA are crucial to preventing tooth decay and cavities.
How can I prevent tooth decay?
The best protection against tooth decay and cavities is prevention. Here are the best ways to prevent tooth decay and cavities:
Regular brushing and flossing
The first line of defense against tooth decay and cavities is regularly brushing your teeth and flossing. Patients should brush and floss their teeth twice a day. Using a toothpaste with fluoride will work to rebuild and strengthen the enamel of your teeth, helping repair the damage done by bacteria and prevent tooth decay.
Regular dental checkups
The next line of defense is regular dental checkups. With the recommended dental exam and cleaning every six months, you can dramatically reduce your chances of developing tooth decay and cavities, and catch and treat dental problems early.
Dental sealants are a protective coating that is “painted” onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Typically placed on the molars, dental sealants can help reduce your risk of developing tooth decay. Dental sealants are a common preventive treatment for children and teens but are also effective for adults.
Even with regular brushing and flossing, plaque and tartar can build up on the teeth. This buildup usually cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone, so regular dental cleanings are the best treatment option. For patients who may have periodontal disease, a regular dental cleaning may not be enough. That’s why at Premier Periodontics, we offer scaling and root planing to remove even the deepest plaque and tartar that often hides below the gumline.
Reduce refined sugars in your diet
Sugars, especially the refined sugars in soft drinks, candy, and sweets, are the fuel that supercharges those little bacteria causing tooth decay. Eating a healthier diet lower in refined sugars in addition to drinking the daily recommended amount of water can reduce your risk of developing tooth decay and cavities.
Keep your teeth strong, healthy, and happy
Don’t let tooth decay destroy your healthy, beautiful smile. At Premier Periodontics, our experienced team of doctors offers not only specialized expertise for your gums and periodontal health; we seek to improve our patients’ overall oral health. If you’re near Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Olympia, or Redmond, contact your nearest office today to learn more about how we can help you protect your teeth from tooth decay and cavities.