Have you ever had a painful cavity that’s needed a filling?
Cavities are no joke. They can cause pain, sensitivity, and even potential gum disease. They may even result in a dead tooth.
While not all cavities are avoidable (after all, they’re common), you can still do your part to avoid getting fillings and having that pesky tooth decay. We’re here to offer some advice to help you out.
Keep reading to learn all about fillings and cavities and how to avoid them.
What Is a Cavity?
When you get a cavity, it means that a permanent hole has formed in the surface of your tooth. That hole allows bacteria into your tooth.
When cavities are small, they’re not much of a problem. A dentist can fix them with small fillings, or they may recommend trying to reverse some of the tooth decay instead with lifestyle changes.
If a cavity grows too large, it will need a filling. Most cavities are fixable with simple dental fillings, but some larger ones need root canals or even a complete dental extraction.
These are expensive procedures, so it’s best to prevent cavities when you’re able to do so.
What Is a Filling?
A filling is what a dentist uses to fill the tooth after the decay is gone.
When your dentist performs a filling, they’ll start by removing the decay. They’ll use a variety of drills and hooks to get into the tooth and scrape out anything that could cause problems.
Before they start, they use a local anesthetic to make sure that you won’t feel any pain. You may also request some form of sedation (like laughing gas) for fillings.
The dentist will fill the tooth with either metal or composite material. Composite is more popular because it looks the same as the natural tooth, making the cavity less noticeable.
Brush Often (and Brush Right)
Most people can lower their risks of cavities by brushing their teeth the right way.
It’s ideal to brush your teeth after every snack or meal, but brushing too often can damage your enamel, so many people don’t bother. It’s also inconvenient to brush this often.
Instead, make sure that you brush at least two times per day.
Your brushing sessions should last at least two minutes. This might seem excessive, but this allows you to reach every surface of your teeth to make sure that you’re not leaving behind any plaque or bacteria.
If you have a hard time, listen to a song for the duration of your brushing session.
Make sure that you replace your toothbrush often, and that you don’t rinse your mouth after you brush. This allows the fluoride in the toothpaste to continue working.
Straighten Your Teeth
This is tricky. Not everyone can afford orthodontic work, so if this isn’t accessible for you, feel free to move onto the next step.
While many people think that straightening your teeth is for aesthetics alone, this isn’t true. Teeth that are too crowded are often more difficult to brush and floss. This allows bacteria to hide between them.
When you get braces or clear aligners, you may also start paying more attention to your dental health.
Floss Every Day
How often do you floss?
You don’t have to be embarrassed. Many people don’t floss as often as they should. That said, this is an unhealthy habit.
You should floss at least once (if not twice) every day. It’s important to floss even if you don’t feel anything between your teeth and even if you haven’t eaten solid food.
While flossing does get debris from in between your teeth, it also removes plaque and bacteria that your toothbrush won’t be able to reach.
If flossing with normal floss is too difficult, consider getting floss picks or a water flosser. If flossing is painful or if it causes bleeding, see a dentist. This is an early sign of gum disease.
Change Your Diet
One of the best things that you can do in your daily life to prevent cavities is to change your diet.
When you eat too many sugary and sticky foods, it’s easier for bacteria to form in your mouth. While brushing is a great way to remove this bacteria, if you don’t brush right away, there’s still time for it to thrive.
You don’t have to commit sweets and sticky foods completely. After all, even the natural sugar found in fruit can cause damage. Try to eat these things right before you’re ready to brush your teeth.
See Your Dentist Often
Did you know that you’re supposed to see your dentist twice per year if you want to maintain your healthy smile?
Dental care can be expensive. This (along with dental anxiety) causes many people to forgo their routine dentist visits. They may only see a dentist if they’re experiencing pain, but by that point, it’s too late.
See a dentist twice per year for checkups and professional cleanings. Your dentist will be able to catch any problems before they turn into major issues, and a professional cleaning will get rid of any pesky tartar before it can cause damage.
Bonus: Many dentists will send you home with treats, like floss and a new toothbrush.
Avoid Getting Fillings With This Advice
You can avoid getting fillings and root canals if you take care of your teeth. While some things will be out of your control, like genetics or tooth trauma, keeping your teeth clean and going to routine dentist appointments can make a big difference.
Looking for more information on dental health? What about cavities specifically? Check out our other helpful articles to learn how to spot the signs of a cavity and more.