My family's dental health is important to me. Unfortunately for me, it is not as important to my little ones. Getting my kids to brush and floss on a daily basis is almost like taking on an obstacle course. I talked to my family's dentist about different methods I could try to encourage them to brush and floss on a regular basis. Some of the tricks worked, some did not. After some experimentation and talking to other parents, I was able to come up with a lot of great tips for helping kids care for their teeth. I started this blog to help other parents get creative when it comes to their kids and dental care.
Cavities are areas of decay that can affect your tooth enamel and the underlying dentin. Once your tooth enamel is damaged by decay, it will never grow back. Dentists can treat cavities by drilling away damaged tooth enamel and replacing it with dental fillings. However, prevention is best. Here are four ways a dentist can help you avoid cavities:
1. Remove plaque from your teeth.
Plaque is a sticky substance that accumulates on teeth and causes cavities. Plaque develops when your saliva mixes with certain types of bacteria. Certain foods, especially those high in sugar, can feed plaque and encourage its development. You can remove plaque at home by thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth. During a professional cleaning, a dental hygienist will use an abrasive paste to polish plaque and stubborn stains off your teeth.
2. Scrape away calcified tartar.
Tartar accumulates when plaque calcifies and grows solid on your teeth. Unlike plaque, which can be easily brushed or flossed away, tartar cannot be easily removed at home. Fortunately, your dentist can remove stubborn tartar through a process known as scaling. During the scaling process, your dentist will use a hook-shaped tool to scrape tartar from your teeth. This process is usually painless, although people with significant tartar build-up may feel some minor discomfort.
3. Suggest a helpful schedule for dental appointments.
In general, experts recommend that people have their teeth professionally cleaned every six months. However, some people are more prone to cavities due to their lifestyle or genes. If you find yourself dealing with cavities regularly, despite a good home care regimen, you may simply be predisposed to cavities. In this case, your dentist may suggest that you schedule dental appointments more frequently, so your teeth can be professionally cleaned. Visiting the dentist every few months can keep cavities at bay, even if your teeth are soft and cavity-prone.
4. Take annual x-rays.
Dentists also do the important work of diagnosing cavities and other dental concerns. Some cavities can be spotted with the naked eye, but smaller cavities can only be seen using x-rays. X-rays are a valuable diagnostic tool that allows dentists to find and treat cavities before they can cause pain. Some people worry about the health implications of dental x-rays. However, the amount of radiation you receive from a dental x-ray is negligible and will not negatively impact your health. X-rays are used preventatively on an annual basis, but people presenting with dental pain can be scheduled for additional x-rays.