Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and you might be surprised to learn that it is almost entirely preventable. When you incorporate diligent home care with professional dental cleanings and preventive treatments, you can often avoid cavities. Even if cavities occur, our ability to diagnose them quickly means we can treat them while they are still small – before they endanger your tooth structure.
Our modern diets are often to blame when it comes to tooth decay. Before the 20th century, sugar was expensive and considered a luxury. Processed foods were not even an option yet! In our diets today, sugar is a main ingredient in almost everything, including salad dressings and sauces. You will often find it where you least expect it. This increase in sugar also caused an increase in tooth decay.
Fluoridated Water in the Community
Beginning in the 1940s, water municipalities began adding fluoride to the drinking water, and this has significantly decreased the amount of decay in modern times. However, the amount of fluoride varies from city to city. Some communities do not have the levels necessary to effectively prevent decay.
Most American patients will have at least one cavity by the time they reach adulthood, but the amount of decay has decreased dramatically over the last fifty years. This is partially due to education, fluoridated drinking water, improved home care, and preventive treatments provided by dentists such as fluoride varnish and dental sealants.
Preventive Fluoride Treatments
Fluoride strengthens and protects the hard substance called enamel that covers your teeth. Enamel becomes soft when it comes in contact with acidic substances such as juices, sodas, and sports drinks. Bacteria also create an acidic environment in the mouth as they feed on sugars and reproduce.
By having regular fluoride treatments, you can help your enamel to stay strong and healthy. Today, we use a fluoride varnish that stays on your teeth much longer than the old gel treatments from years ago.
Having regular fluoride treatments is not just for kids. In fact, adults prone to decay and adults with gum recession may find fluoride treatments beneficial. It also cuts down on sensitivity and can be used prior to professional teeth whitening.
Protective Dental Sealants
Just like fingerprints, your teeth are unique to you. Some people have deep grooves in their teeth that are so small that a toothbrush bristle cannot keep them clean. For people who are prone to decay on the chewing surfaces of their teeth and for patients who have deep grooves where bacteria is likely to collect, protective dental sealants provide an affordable and long-lasting option to fight decay.
Sealants are thin coatings that cover the chewing surface of your back teeth. This creates a barrier between food particles, bacteria, and your enamel. Dental sealants last for up to five years, and they can easily be replaced if necessary. Since they are more affordable and less invasive than fillings, they provide a great option for many patients.
Call Us to Schedule Your Next Exam
If it is time for your next preventive appointment, contact our Fort Myers dental office at 239-939-2433. Our entire team at Alliance Dental looks forward to meeting you.