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Your Guide to Tooth Decay and Cavities 

Ever wonder why Dr. McCullough regularly checks your teeth for cavities? Cavities are a very common dental problem, and when caught early, they can be easily treated. Without proper treatment, cavities can cause tooth decay and other health problems. 

At McCullough Dental, we care about our patients and want to keep you as healthy as possible, so we are constantly on the lookout for dental problems like cavities. You can help us out by learning more about cavities and what you can do to prevent them. 

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is a damaged area located on your tooth enamel. Cavities are the start of more serious tooth decay. When cavities are quickly addressed by Dr. McCoullough, they can be easily resolved. 

Cavities are little holes in your enamel. Tooth enamel is the thin covering of the rest of your tooth and it’s the hardest tissue in the human body. 

When you brush your teeth, you are clearing plaque from your enamel. When plaque is left sitting on your enamel, the bacteria in the plaque attacks enamel creating little holes or cavities. 

What Are the Risk Factors for Cavities?

Nearly everyone will get a cavity at some point in their life, but some factors can increase your risk including:

  • Frequent snacking, especially on sugary food and drink. Cavity-causing bacteria thrive on sugar and other carbohydrates, so continually consuming those things throughout the day creates more risk. 
  • Inadequate oral care. There’s a reason Dr. McCullough and the rest of our staff tell you to brush your teeth every day. Brushing and flossing are a fantastic at-home defense against cavities and tooth decay. 
  • Dry mouth. Saliva helps to prevent tooth decay when it is washing food and plaque away from your teeth. If you have an unusually dry mouth due to medications or medical conditions, you may have a higher cavity risk. 
  • Tooth location. Keep an eye on your back teeth! Because molars and premolars have more grooves and crevices than your front teeth, they are more susceptible to developing cavities. 

What Are the Signs of Cavities?

Tooth decay can start without you even noticing, which is why regular dental visits are so important! Your dentist and their staff can catch tooth decay right when it starts. More advanced tooth decay does have signs you can look out for, such as:

  • Toothaches (especially when there is no obvious cause of the pain).
  • Tooth sensitivity. 
  • Pain when eating or drinking something cold, hot, or sweet.
  • Staining on the tooth surface.
  • Pain when biting down.

If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with McCullough Dental so we can correctly diagnose the problem and offer the proper treatment for keeping your mouth healthy.

How To Prevent Tooth Decay

Preventing tooth decay is always better than treating it. While cavities can happen even when you are taking all the necessary steps to avoid them, by using good practices you can mitigate your risk. 

To prevent cavities you should:

  • Eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. These are better for your teeth than meats and carbs.
  • Drink water that contains fluoride. Most tap waters include fluoride. The label on your bottled water can tell you if it contains fluoride too.
  • Brush your teeth. This is an obvious one, but that is because it is so important. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, or after every meal. Flossing helps too!
  • Avoid snacking throughout the day. When you eat, the bacteria in your mouth create acids to aid in digestion. Those same acids can destroy your enamel. 

In addition to all of these methods, don’t forget to come visit us at least every six months. We can catch problems early, as well as suggest other ways you can prevent tooth decay based on your unique situation.

Cavity Treatment and Prevention in Bakersfield, California

If you have any further questions about tooth decay prevention or cavity treatment, contact McCullough Dental today. We have a friendly staff that knows a lot about how to prevent cavities and tooth decay. Schedule an appointment today to find out if you have cavities that need attention.

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