Dental sealants, a way to prevent tooth decayFebruary 7, 2018
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What are the causes of dental cavities and how can you prevent them?
Tooth decay is one of the most widespread problems, affecting almost 100% of the population. Left untreated, tooth decay causes complications of the tooth pulp (nerve), the periodontal and bone tissue around the tooth, and eventually, the loss of the tooth. Although it is a high prevalence issue, its causes are not yet fully understood. It is considered that an important role in the formation of cavities is played by mouth bacteria, particularly Streptococcus mutans. These microorganisms need sugar, which they metabolize and turn into acids, causing the decalcification of the enamel and the initiation of the tooth decay process. Three factors are involved in the occurrence of tooth decay: food sugar, mouth bacteria and the tooth, which has to be vulnerable to the cavity attack.
In order to prevent cavities, diet related measures have to be taken, the number of microbes in the mouth must be reduced and the tooth’s resistance has to be increased.
Sugar is a daily component of our diet and has an important caloric share, and sweets are a treat for everyone. It cannot be eliminated from the daily diet, but the intake can be reduced and sticky products (caramels, candy, biscuits) can be avoided, as they adhere to the teeth for a long time. It is recommended not to consume sweets between meals, and immediately after, teeth have to be washed or fruit have to be consumed, as this helps the self-cleaning of the teeth. Raw fruit and vegetables, through their fiber content, stimulate the mastication function, facilitating self-cleaning.
2. Reducing the number of germs inside the mouth
Brushing the teeth with the toothbrush and toothpaste eliminates food residues and reduces the number of microorganisms colonized on the surface of the teeth. Brushing should be done after every meal, with a medium hardness toothbrush, for 3 minutes. To prevent interproximal cavities, floss or an interdental toothbrush should be used. At night, brushing is very important, because food residues remaining on the teeth are more easily turned into acids by the bacteria inside the mouth, as less saliva is secreted. Saliva protects the teeth by neutralizing the acids and remineralizing the enamel. Antiseptic mouthwashes (chlorhexidine) reduce the bacterial flora, yet their consumption is limited to short periods, because of their irritant effect on the mucosae and coloring effect on the teeth.
3. Increasing the resistance of the tooth
There is an individual variation regarding the resistance to tooth decay, which could also be hereditary. Administering fluoride during the formation of the tooth increases its resistance to tooth decay. There is an intense debate on administering fluoride tablets or fluoridating drinking water; however, studies have confirmed the absence of a harmful effect in small concentrations of fluoride used for tooth decay prophylaxis. Administering fluoride tablets must begin during the first days of life and continued until the age of 12.
Fluoride concentrate gels applied through brushing, in mouth guards or through rinsing have positive effects.
Sealing the grooves and pits on the masticating surface of the molars prevents the direct contact between sugar, bacteria and the enamel, protecting against tooth decay.
Remember, a perfectly clean tooth will never be affected by tooth decay! Brush your teeth after every meal, whenever you can
It is very important to see your dentist regularly, in order to timely detect and treat the various dental problems and prevent the occurrence of others.