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Michael E. King, DDS
Resolution Preventing Cavities
Michael King DDS (Mira Dental Care)

Resolution Preventing Cavities

People go to the dental office primarily to have cavities filled. In this article I would like to address another approach, prevention. It is amazing how people are willing to spend 500 to 2000 dollars on getting cavities filled with no problem. When I tell them to invest in a toothbrush that can aid in preventing cavities that cost 125 dollars (Sonicare elite) they look at me like I am crazy. If you can prevent cavities from forming, you will spend less time and money on your dental care and you will have less painful emergency visits to the dental office.

Tooth Anatomy

Your tooth is made up of three layers enamel, dentin, and pulp.

The enamel is the white portion of the tooth you see when you smile. It is the hardest layer of the tooth. Its function is to hold the tooth together during biting and chewing.

The dentin is the next layer underneath the enamel. It is also hard but not nearly as hard as the enamel. It acts as insulation for hot and cold items to protect the third layer, the pulp.

The pulp is the final layer underneath the dentin. It contains blood vessels and nerves. Its function is to provide nutrients to the tooth to keep it strong so it does not crack or break.

What is a cavity?

A cavity is a hole in your tooth created by bacteria. These bacteria live inside your mouth and can only grow when you supply them with the food you eat. Contrary to popular belief, bacteria do not eat your teeth, they eat the food you eat and then secrete acid that breaks down the teeth and cause decay.

Since the enamel is the hardest part of the tooth, it takes bacteria quite a while to cause a hole in it. Most people do not see or feel the effects of a cavity that is only in the enamel. A trained dentist is needed to check your teeth and view radiographs (x-rays) in order to find cavities that are contained only in the enamel.

Bacteria that have reached the dentin grow faster than bacteria in the enamel. These bacteria are more likely to cause some sort of discomfort from hot or cold items. Usually people do not view the sensitivity as serious and delay getting proper dental treatment which can result in a much more severe situation if the bacteria reach the pulp.

Bacteria that have reached the pulp can cause you to feel much discomfort ranging from mild to severe pain.


When it comes to prevention, time is the enemy. As soon as you eat something the decay process starts. Remember, the bacteria eat what you eat. Most foods (not just candy) contain some sort of sugar that the bacteria can digest and start secreting acid on your teeth. This is specifically why your dentist wants you to perform regular oral hygiene (brushing and flossing mainly) immediately after every meal. The longer the food stays on your teeth, the more the decay process has to work on causing a cavity.

It is important to know your eating habits; When you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and when you eat snacks. If you have a high cavity rate when you visit the dentist, chances are you are losing the battle against time somewhere in your diet.

It is important to remember that prevention is more than just brushing and flossing. It requires a complete regimen of oral hygiene prescribed by your dentist and hygienist. Therefore it is important to visit your dental team to obtain advice on improving oral hygiene and most importantly when you should return for cleanings and check-ups (not just six months, but personalized per individual).

When visiting the dentist, you should ask questions like “How am I doing cleaning my teeth?” “Where is most of my plaque and tarter?” And, “What can I do to prevent tarter and cavities from forming on my teeth?”

The main element people face when dealing with cavities is time between eating and applying sound oral hygiene habits. Each person is different and requires a different regimen of oral care. By visiting a dental team on a personalized regular interval mapped out according to your specific needs, prevention of dental problems is optimum.

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