If your dentist is finding more decay in your mouth than usual, he or she may prescribe treatment options to better protect your tooth enamel. In addition, the dentist may suggest a few lifestyle changes that can help promote better oral health.
Here are a few things that your dentist may prescribe as an in-office treatment and an at-home measure that you can take to help lessen the number of cavities that you incur:
Your dentist may prescribe fluoride treatments to reduce the incidence of cavities. Although you probably brush regularly with a fluoridated toothpaste, the concentration of fluoride available to the teeth as you brush is much lower than that contained in an in office treatment.
The dentist will apply the fluoride directly to your teeth, give the solution enough time to absorb into the enamel and then remove the excess solution.
Fluoride lessens the number of cavities by helping your tooth enamel become more acid-resistant. The compound helps attract dissolved minerals back to the tooth surface to be combined with them and form a new tooth material. Minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, combine with fluoride to create a material that is not as easily damaged by bacterial acids.
Bacterial acids are responsible for much of the decay that occurs in your mouth. As oral bacteria eat, they release acid. This acid dissolves the enamel of your teeth to cause tooth decay.
Dental sealants are plastic coatings that are placed over areas of the teeth that are prone to decay, such as the grooved chewing surfaces of a back tooth. Once a sealant is applied, the plastic barrier protects the teeth from bacterial acid. In addition, since the barrier fills in some of the grooves or pockets within the chewing surface of a tooth, particles of food and plaque are less likely to accumulate in those areas.
The application of sealants is not painful, and the plastic coatings can last for years.
Your dentist may suggest that you chew sugarless gum regularly at home. By chewing a piece of sugar-free gum after you eat, you can help dislodge food particles from the teeth and encourage the production of saliva to help rinse away plaque and dilute bacterial acid.
To learn more ways to protect your teeth, schedule an appointment with a local dentist. He or she can assess the current state of your oral health and make professional recommendations.