In this blog post our Barnstable dentist walks through some of the key principles to help you reduce the number of fillings you need. Reducing the number of fillings you need at the dentist has multiple benefits:
- You spend less money at the dentist.
- You spend less time at the dentist.
- You have fewer injections.
- You keep your teeth natural which means they are for more likely to last longer.
… And who wouldn’t want all of that?
You will only need a dental filling if you have a broken down tooth, usually this is caused from tooth decay so reducing the number of fillings you need depends upon a few factors:
- Your genetics.
- Your diet.
- Your dental health routine.
Genetic factors which affect tooth decay
- Tooth enamel strength
- Some people are born with thin tooth enamel which is just more prone to breaking down which consequently exposes the underlying softer dentine which becomes more susceptible to decay.
- Elements such as calcium and potassium are important for building tooth strength, but it depends upon how these minerals are metabolised in your body, your saliva plays a big part in this metabolic process.
- The microbes in your mouth
- Your mouth contains a large amount of bacteria, this is quite normal and nothing to worry about so long as your body’s immune system is working well. These communities of bacteria can change in size if your body becomes immunosuppressed
There is often nothing you can do about genetic factors which affect tooth decay but if you are susceptible to any of the above then following a good diet and dental health care routine will certainly be of increased benefit.
How does diet affect tooth decay?
The biggest contributor to tooth decay in diet is sugar. Tooth decay is caused when the bacteria in your mouth excrete acid during the day congestion of the sugar in your diet. It is this acid which attacks the enamel on your teeth causing it to decay.
Your saliva is alkaline so is designed to counteract this excessive acidity but if there is too much acid created then the saliva can’t keep up.
When thinking about sugar don’t just think about added sugar, think about sugar which naturally occurs in fruit, this can also create that acid attack on your teeth.
Ready-made meals also very often have sugar added to them to make the more flavoursome. Reducing the amount of ready-made meals you eat will, in turn, help to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.
Reducing cavities with a good dental health routine
Having a good dental health care routine is one of the key ways to reduce dental cavities. Following a simple 3 minute routine twice a day can help to reduce the chance of developing cavities, that routine is:
- Wait 20 min after eating before brushing your teeth to give your enamel chance to recover from the acid attack.
- Brush using a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Brush your teeth the 2 min. 1 min brushing the top teeth and 1 min brushing the bottom teeth.
- Clean in between your teeth using dental floss or incidental brushes (the bacteria love to lurk in between your teeth so this is a vital step to keeping buildup at bay).
Using a fluoride containing mouthwash after meals can also help to reduce the chance of developing cavities, however do not use mouthwash after cleaning your teeth as mouthwash contains less fluoride than toothpaste and you will actually reduce the amount of fluoride in contact with your teeth if you use mouthwash after cleaning with toothpaste.
…and lastly, but definitely by no means least, visiting your dentist and dental hygienist regularly Is one of the key factors to keeping tooth decay at bay.
At home you may only notice if you have tooth decay when there is a visible hole or pain. Your hygienist and dentist will be able to spot the very early warning signs of tooth decay (such as enamel becoming soft) at an earlier stage than you could ever possibly achieve at home.
This means a very tiny filling can then be placed early on in the decay process, rather than leaving the decay to get bigger and then requiring a larger filling.
Doing this means your dentist is able to preserve as much natural tooth structure as possible which is always the goal of every dentist.