Can Cavities be Reversed?
Is it possible for you to reverse cavities and tooth decay? The answer is a bit confusing, as it depends on the stage of your cavity development.
When it comes to healing or re-growing a physical cavity inside of your tooth, no, it’s not possible to reverse the decay. So, anything you see on the internet saying it’s possible to cure cavities on your own using DIY methods is a bit misleading, to say the least. However, catching early signs of cavities is the key to preventing a more complex dental issue
HOW DO CAVITIES / DENTAL CARIES DEVELOP?
Essentially, Cavities / Dental caries develop after gradual exposure to acids produced by oral bacteria. With time, these acids kick start the breakdown of minerals in your teeth, weakening them and leaving them vulnerable to infection. Here are the five stages of cavity development you can expect:
Demineralisation– the earliest sign of tooth decay is the exposure of the enamel to acids from bacteria, causing this tough outer layer to weaken.
Enamel Decay– With no intervention, the enamel will continue to break down to the point where holes may form.
Dentin Decay– The decay eventually reaches the dentin (the soft tissue under the enamel) and this is where you may experience a lot of pain.
Pulp Decay– Your pulp contains the nerves and blood vessels of your tooth. Once decay reaches the pulp, pain and inflammation can be much more severe.
Abscess– When the cavity spreads under the pulp and forms pus, this is known as the formation of an abscess.
Tooth decay can be caused by a variety of factors but it can usually be pinpointed to poor oral hygiene.
CAN CAVITIES ACTUALLY BE REVERSED?
While cavities can’t be prevented, treatment usually depends on how far the tooth decay has gone. When caught in the earliest stages of demineralization, cavities and tooth decay can be halted and reversed with good oral hygiene. This may include regular brushing, flossing fluoride treatment and other professional recommendations.
In more severe cases, other treatments will be necessary including:
Fillings– for smaller cavities
Crowns– for larger portions of tooth decay
Root canals– for when the pulp is infected
Extractions – when the tooth can no longer be treated
FACTORS CAUSING CAVITIES/TOOTH DECAY
It’s essential to understand the factors associated with cavities to maintain good oral health.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Inadequate brushing and flossing allow plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) to build up on your teeth. Over time this plaque can erode tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
Sugary, Starchy and Acidic Foods/drinks
Foods and beverages high in sugar and starch provide a feast for the bacteria in your mouth. When these bacteria feed on sugars, they produce acids that can eat away at your teeth. Acidic substances like sodas can weaken tooth enamel.
Saliva plays a vital role in neutralising acids and protecting your teeth. Dry mouth is a condition that reduces saliva production, it can increase the risk of cavities.
Poorly Aligned teeth
Crooked or crowded teeth can create hard-to-reach areas where plaque can accumulate. These hidden nooks and crannies make it more challenging to clean your teeth effectively.
As we age, our gums can recede, exposing the tooth roots which are not as protected by enamel. This can increase the risk of decay, especially at the gumline.
Understanding these risk factors will help you to take proactive steps to prevent tooth decay and cavities.
HOW CAN WE AVOID A CAVITY IN THE FIRST PLACE
The best way to reduce your risk of cavities and tooth decay is by practising proper oral hygiene. Some important steps you’ll want to carry out regularly are:
Brushing with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day reduces buildup of plaque and strengthen the enamel.
Floss at least before bed to prevent bacteria from accumulating overnight.
Strengthen your enamel by increasing your exposure to fluoride. For example, by drinking fluoridated water, using fluoride-containing products or asking your dentist for fluoride treatments.
Using an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash can help reduce plaque and strengthen your tooth enamel.
Drink more water. Water helps rinse away food particles and acids, contributing to better oral health.
Reduce your consumption of sugary and starchy foods. If you do eat these foods, brush after.
Visit our dentist every 6 months for a professional cleaning.
WHEN TO SEE YOUR DENTIST
If you notice any tooth discolouration or experience any sensitivity and discomfort when chewing, eating or drinking, you’ll want to visit Purity Dental dentists in Mulgrave to catch your cavity as early as possible.