Cavities are destroying your smile right before your eyes.
I hurt inside when I see people who have cavities like the image above. I know what’s going to happen. It’s going to get worse. It’s not socially acceptable to hand them a business card and say I’ve got what it takes to fix that problem, but I’ve done it. You see the same people. The ones in public places, in lawyer’s offices, restaurants, retail stores, at the DMV and at cash registers in the supermarket. It might be a friend. It might even be you. I hope not.
I’ve got good news for you and bad news for you. First the bad news. If you don’t do anything, it’s only going to get worse. You’ve got to see a dentist soon. It’s too late to change your diet, your toothpaste, flossing habits, the soda you drink or the food you eat. Though, all of those changes might help you keep new cavities from starting, and slow down the ones that are already growing. You have an infestation. A bug infestation that is eating holes into your teeth.
The good news is your dentist is equipped to rid you of that infestation. The sooner he starts the better are his chances of removing all the bugs before they reach the center of your tooth, where the nerve sits. Cavities can sneak up on you. Often they don’t cause any pain in the early stages and you don’t have any warnings until it becomes visibly noticeable in the mirror. You might notice that you have a toothache if you eat sweets. Or if your cavities are between back teeth your first clue might be food getting stuck. These are warning signs not to be ignored.
What Causes Cavities?
Bad bugs cause cavities. I’m not talking about the type with six legs that crawl around the corners and crevices outside the front steps of your home, but that is a good analogy. The cavity causing bugs I’m talking about are microscopic bacteria, sometimes called germs, that you first heard about from your mom as a child. They are related to the germs that your mom wanted you to wash off your hands as soon as you came inside after playing, “Wash your hands well, use soap, scrub them good and dry them off”. You probably heard that thousands of times as a little kid. She would usually feel your hands or smell them to see if you really did as she asked. Just checking up on you.
Things aren’t much different taking care of the germs or bacteria that cause cavities. The goal of washing your hands is to remove the bacteria. The goal of brushing your teeth and cleaning them well is to get rid of bacteria. It’s pretty simple, but not always easy. Drugstores have isles full of dental aids, enough to give you a headache just thinking about it. Home care efforts can be performed with excellence or with carelessness, but working diligently will have great rewards.
Bacteria are hungry little beasts and need food just like every other living creature. They will eat much of what you do, but also have their favorites. They eat the leftovers that you leave behind waiting for them to enjoy. If you eat their favorite, high sugar foods and leave a little behind after your cleaning efforts, they are overjoyed. You can hear them doing their happy dance.
These bacteria cause cavities by consuming the food you eat and pooping out acids. There, I said it. I can be more sophisticated with how I describe it, but that’s basically it. If you think about it you probably don’t really want bacteria poop on your teeth. Neither do I. It’s that acid that dissolves the calcium-phosphate mineral that makes your teeth so hard. The visible outside shiny layer is called enamel. It is the hardest substance in your body consisting of 96% mineral. It protects the second layer, dentin, which is only 70% mineral. Enamel’s weakness is acid. Superman had kryptonite as a weakness. Your teeth have bacterial acid as a weakness.
Can I Get My Cavities Fixed?
Yes. Don’t delay, however, because the longer you wait the more damage can be done. With more damage comes generally more expense. Even though the cavity causing bacteria are small they cause big problems. Once the bacteria get past the hard enamel “armour plate” layer the infection accelerates in the softer dentin second layer. Their goal is to cause a massive infection inside the center of your tooth. Your assignment is to stop them in their tracks and halt the damage before that happens.
Your dentist is the best person equipped to help you if you suspect you have a cavities. A good dentist will give you straight talk about what he suspects is contributing to your cavities. It’s not a contest. You don’t want to see how many you can accumulate. There is no prize given to the one with the most.
There are a variety of different ways different cavities can be restored. Front teeth may be treated differently from back teeth. But, they all involve removing the bacteria infestation, strengthening the remaining tooth and doing it all with a cosmetic mindset.
(See the other articles on cavities to get an even better understanding of what you can do to keep your sexy smile. What foods are the best to avoid? What might keep your efforts from being successful?)