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Cavities can wreak havoc on your smile without proper care and attention. What exactly are cavities and how are they created? Cavities are essentially holes that develop in your teeth from the effects of plaque formation. Plaque—the sticky bacterial film that coats your teeth and gums arises as a reaction to the sugars in the foods you eat and drink, such as bread, milk, cookies, juice, etc. The bacteria in your mouth react to this sugar by creating acids that eat away at tooth enamel. Early signs of decay include white spots on your teeth where minerals in the enamel are lost.

The hole that is left behind when your dentist cleans out the decay is called a cavity. Cavities can develop in varies places on a tooth, whether it be the top or biting surface, such as the molars, or between the teeth from lack of flossing. If you have gum disease, or your gums are receding with age, cavities may form on the root surfaces of your teeth as well. Your dentist, after removing the decay, will fill the hole with a filling material to prevent further decay.

So what can you do to keep cavities away from your smile? Take the time each day to care for your teeth. Brush them for two minutes at least twice every day. Use a toothbrush with bristles that are in good shape as frayed bristles cannot clean your teeth properly. You will want to replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if you chew on the bristles causing them to fray.

An important protection for your teeth is fluoride. It strengthens your tooth enamel, keeping it strong and healthy. You can expose your teeth to fluoride’s protective properties by drinking tap water, using toothpaste with fluoride, or rinsing with mouthwash that has fluoride in it.

You can limit your intake of sugary and starchy foods, especially when snacking. This will help reduce plaque formation, so work at consuming a healthy diet. Your teeth and your body will thank you! Cheese, nuts, apple slices and carrot sticks are the kinds of foods that can help your teeth stay strong.

Be sure to keep all scheduled dental cleanings to remove hardened plaque (tartar) off of your teeth and gum line. We recommend cleanings every six months, so we can check for tooth problems early on while they are most economical and easy to treat. If you are cavity prone, we may also recommend dental sealants and fluoride treatments to protect your teeth.

Preventing cavities for a healthy smile is possible! Take good care of your teeth, and if it is time to schedule your next dental visit with one of our skilled dentists, Dr. Ryan R. Bailey or Dr. B. Keith Huff, please contact our South Coast Family Dentistry team in Coos Bay, Oregon at 541-269-5353 today.