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How to Prevent Cavities in West Auckland

Woman with toothacheI’m talking to you: from Kelston to Glen Eden to Green Bay to Henderson to New Lynn to Piha to Titirangi and all my other fellow Westies.

As a Dentist, I’m often asked, “How can I stop getting cavities?”

Let’s first look at the science behind how you get a cavity:

Dental cavities are holes in the hard surface of the teeth.  They come about from bacteria on the surface of teeth creating acid out of sugar. The bacteria form a sticky film known as plaque. The acids in plaque remove minerals from your enamel — the hard outer surface of teeth. This erosion causes holes in the enamel. Once the acid damage spreads into the next dentin layer of the tooth, a cavity forms.

Causes for cavities include:

  • Dry mouth or having a medical condition/medicines that reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth
  • Foods and drinks that cling to teeth, like candy and sticky foods
  • Frequent snacking on sugary foods or drinks, like soda, cereals, and ice cream
  • Smoking/vaping 
  • Bedtime infant feeding 
  • Inadequate cleaning of teeth

Once a cavity has penetrated the dentin, you won’t be able to get rid of it. That’s where you’ll have to see me for help. Dentists can also detect and heal early cavity formation in the enamel.  There are ways to reduce your cavity risk.

Cavity prevention tips:

  • Chewing sugar free gum after meals. This strengthens enamel while increasing saliva flow and also reduces the bad bacteria in your mouth.
  • Cut out sugary foods!  This is the cavity remedy that no one likes to hear — stop eating so much sugar. If you’re going to eat sugar, try not to snack on sugary foods throughout the day. Once the sugar is gone, your enamel has a chance to heal. But if you are constantly eating sugar, your teeth don’t get this chance.
  • Quit smoking/vaping.  Smoking/vaping causes more plaque build-up, so more decay causing bacteria.  It also dries the mouth.
  • No to putting a child to bed with a bottle. Many parents aren’t aware that putting their child to bed with a bottle each night can cause rapid, severe cavities on their front teeth. Often containing something with sugar in it such as milk, formula or juice, this essentially means their teeth are “soaking” in a sugar bath for many hours.
  • Brush twice a day for 2 minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. Your toothbrush should be changed every 3 months. Don’t forget to floss daily too! And those regular hygienist visits will definitely help maintain optimal oral health.
  • Regular dental check-ups. Many dental problems, even deep cavities, develop without any pain or other symptoms. Ask your dentist about fissure sealants (protective coating to shield enamel from decay) as a preventive.  Regular dental checkups are the best way to catch a cavity before it gets worse. Early diagnosis means easier treatment. So be sure to visit me, your dentist regularly.

If you suspect a cavity or want to avoid one developing, be sure to contact our West Auckland practice, Kelston Dental Care on (09) 818 5092.

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