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What Are Cavities and How Do They Form

Diagram of a tooth with a cavity caused by tooth decay used by Tigard dentist at Lisa Gitelson, DMD.As the most common type of chronic disease that occurs in the United States, tooth decay affects nearly 90 percent of the adult population and is one of the major causes of tooth loss in adults and children. Caused by bacteria, cavities start as small pits of erosion on your dental enamel and can quickly grow and spread. Early signs of tooth decay include a toothache, pain when biting and chewing, and sensitivity to hot and cold foods and sweets. We here at Lisa Gitelson, DMD can treat your tooth decay, preventing unwanted loss of your tooth.

How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay?

Also known as cavities or dental caries, tooth decay occurs when your teeth are exposed to bacteria. Your mouth is teeming with millions and millions of germs, some of them benign or even helpful, but most of them are quite harmful. When these bacteria build up on your teeth, they create a sticky, filmy residue known as plaque. When plaque is not removed, they release toxins and acids that can attack your teeth and your gums. When they attack your teeth, it can cause gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis). However, when they attack your teeth, that is when cavities – a hole in your tooth – form.

Your dental enamel is the strongest material in your body, but even dental enamel is not powerless against bacteria. To prevent bacteria from causing tooth decay, you need to introduce a good oral hygiene regimen. Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day, using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums using toothpaste with fluoride in it. Follow up with flossing.

To floss correctly and successfully remove all particles of trapped food, debris, and plaque, use an 18-inch segment of floss and work it between each tooth and up under your gumline. Use a fresh segment of floss per tooth. You can use an antibacterial mouthwash, too, to help kill any remaining bacteria.

In addition to taking care of your teeth by brushing and flossing, you can also change your diet to help prevent tooth decay. Sugar is one of the leading causes of cavities and is found in a wide variety of foods. Avoid soft drinks, as the fizziness combined with the sugar can encourage caries. Also avoid gummy candies and caramels, as they can stick to your teeth and cause problems with tooth decay.

On the other hand, a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals can be highly beneficial. Foods high in Vitamin K and Vitamin D are especially good for you, such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale, as well as fatty fish. Calcium is also very good for your teeth and can be found in dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese. Avoid smoking at all costs, as that can make you especially vulnerable to tooth loss, decay, and even cancer.

The benefits of regular dental appointments cannot be overstated, either. We advise checkups with a cleaning every six months to help ensure a healthy, white smile that is free from cavities. To learn more about tooth decay, or to schedule an appointment with us here at Lisa Gitelson, DMD, please give us a call today at (503) 985-8945.

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Lisa Gitelson, DMD
14300 SW Pacific Hwy
Tigard, OR 97224
(503) 985-8945
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Lisa Gitelson, DMD | | (503) 985-8945
14300 SW Pacific Hwy, Tigard, OR 97224



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