Tooth decay is highly recognizable. It’s also highly common, and unfortunately, it can affect a majority of people to some degree at least once in their lives. The good news, however, is that tooth decay is also highly preventable under the right circumstances, and even if you’ve experienced it once, you still have a good chance of protecting the rest of your healthy, natural teeth from it. Today, we examine what tooth decay really means, as well as a few tips for improving your chances of successfully preventing it in the future.

When it’s more than just a cavity

Cavities are largely the reason why tooth decay is so recognizable. A cavity is a small depression, or hole, in your tooth structure that forms as tooth decay spreads through it. Despite the fact that cavities are a result of decay, the two terms are often (though incorrectly) used synonymously. However, a cavity only describes the initial, milder form of tooth decay, which may contribute to the misconception that decay isn’t that serious. If left alone, the cavity and the decay behind it will continue to progress, and the internal tooth infection that follows can lead to the need for more extensive root canal therapy or tooth extraction.

How to prevent a tooth from decaying

You have several options for treating tooth decay if it does form. For instance, mild to moderate cavities can often be treated with tooth-colored fillings. Even more intensive decay can often be successfully treated with root canal therapy. However, the damage done to your tooth structure is permanent, which is why preventing tooth decay when possible is always preferable for your oral health. While everyone’s oral health risks are different, some of the most common include inadequate hygiene and preventive care practices, and for many patients, improving these practices is key to preventing cavities from affecting their teeth:

  • Be sure to brush and floss every day – Brushing and flossing your teeth on a daily basis is the key to preventing oral bacteria from accumulating enough to harm your teeth. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once for optimal results.
  • Don’t give oral bacteria fuel to cause damage – While bacteria rest on your teeth, between brushing and flossing them away, you can limit their ability to harm your teeth by limiting their exposure to sugars and carbs, which they can metabolize into acids that make your tooth enamel weak.
  • Rinse your teeth often with water – Many of your oral bacteria, including those that lead to tooth decay, are anaerobic, meaning they thrive in the absence of oxygen. By rinsing your teeth routinely with water, especially after eating, you can rinse away many of the bacteria lingering on your teeth as well as neutralize their ability to produce harmful substances.

Learn more about preventing tooth decay

Tooth decay might be a more serious condition than you realize, but you can also successfully prevent it with the right care and maintenance. To learn more, schedule an appointment with us by calling Dreem Dentistry in Leawood, KS, today at 913-681-5500.