Most frequent questions & answers
Cavity formation is multi-factorial, taking into consideration oral care, genetics, and eating/drinking habits. Regarding eating and drinking habits, cavities develop more due to the frequency of exposure to sugars, than to the actual amount of sugar in something. So, drinking a very lightly sweetened juice throughout the afternoon places one in a much higher risk category than if one were to drink a two liter of soda all in one sitting! So, be aware of the frequency of your sugar exposure!
Also, sticky carbohydrates (crackers, pretzels, dry cereals, etc.) tend to cause a great deal of cavities especially when consumed with frequency. These carbohydrates get stuck in the grooves of your teeth, almost immediately ferment into sugars, and tend to remain stuck in and in between your teeth until cleaned!
Heed the advice above! Further, good and thorough brushing and flossing will help immensely. Chewing sugar free gum (especially gum containing xylitol) along with drinking of water after snacks and meals helps to cleanse the mouth as well. Don’t forget to use a fluoridated toothpaste and schedule routine trips to the dentist for cleanings and exams!
Well… yes. Once adjacent teeth are in contact, flossing will be of great benefit! This is because food, plaque, and bacteria get stuck in between the teeth, and the toothbrush bristles just can’t access these areas. In children, for example, the enamel between baby teeth is very thin, so cavities tend to develop in these areas far more readily if flossing is not done routinely.
Ask our dentists about some of their recommended techniques and alternatives. Plaque that forms beneath the gum line and remains there for a long period of time tends to calcify and form ‘calculus’ or ‘tartar’ — the body recognizes this calculus as a foreign object, and an inflammatory process occurs, which often causes gum recession and bone loss around the teeth. At this point, only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove this type of buildup!
What the dentist sees in the mouth only tells half the story; many diseases and pathologies of the teeth and adjacent tissues can only be seen with radiographs. When we take x-rays, we often see:
- Dental cavities forming in between the teeth, or beneath old fillings
- Some types of tumors
- Dental infections in the bone surrounding the teeth
- Gum disease including tartar (calculus) build up beneath the gum line, and resulting bone loss
- Developmental discrepancies (extra teeth, impacted teeth, congenitally absent teeth)
- Orthodontic issues
- Wisdom tooth issues
Dental sealants are a thin white coating that fill in the grooves of the back teeth, serving as a barrier between your tooth and your mouth, effectively and predictably preventing cavities from forming on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. It’s one of the most powerful and useful preventative tools we have!
Oftentimes decay begins in these grooves and pits of the back teeth where plaque tends to accumulate, so the sealant material acts as a barrier, “sealing out” bacteria, plaque, and food. Sealants can be placed on both baby teeth and adult teeth, and is a quick, painless, and easy way to keep teeth healthy. Sealants are smooth, white, and can’t be seen when smiling or talking.
The American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends sealants as an important step to lower the risk of tooth decay and cavities. The dental sealants that we use at Tree House Pediatric and Adult Dentistry are BPA-free, non-toxic, and entirely safe for children and adults.
Ah, halitosis (bad breath): the plight of many! The best way to combat this is a cocktail of gargling with mouthwash, brushing your tongue as far back as you’re able to, and using a tongue scraper nightly. Halitosis tends to be far more common in children, and tends to increase in prevalence and intensity in the winter due to the colder, drier weather.
Severe halitosis can be secondary to dental infections, periodontal disease, or other systemic issues, so please do bring this to the attention of your dentist!