Preventing Caries & Tooth Fillings FAQ's:


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How can you prevent cavities?

1. Brushing helps prevent smooth surface tooth decay. If you remove the plaque from smooth surfaces right after eating, it halts the acid attack.

2. Flossing similarly helps prevent cavities between the teeth.

3. Fluoride strengthens the teeth to better resist smooth surface tooth decay and also between the teeth and it increases the repair rate. Fluoride is present in toothpasts.

4. Anything that helps stimulate saliva flow also helps combat cavities. Since saliva has the repair agents, more saliva means better repair. Also, saliva helps dilute the acids that attack your teeth and helps wash away the food particles before the bacteria can digest them. Surprising to some people is that chewing gum (without sugar) is good for your teeth. It helps clean your teeth and fight decay. Part of its preventive action comes from the saliva flow it stimulates.

5. But the most powerful weapon you have to limit decay is to limit the frequency of eating. None of the preventive techniques above act on the pits and fissures. Also, it is not possible to clean the teeth fast enough and frequently enough and thoroughly enough to totally overcome every acid attack you have after every bite of food. The key is to give your natural mouth chemistry time to repair your teeth after an attack. If you limit yourself to your three meals and maybe a couple of snacks during the day, and practice basic oral hygiene, you can pretty well eliminate most dental caries.

There is also a misconception about the kinds of foods that cause decay. Yes, sweets cause decay, but any carbohydrates promote it - especially any that stick to your teeth, such as crackers or pretzels. Raisins cause food particles to stick in the pits of your teeth and will cause decay. Candies, caramels are the worst, because they stick. Also, hard candies that you suck for a long time are very bad. Chocolate actually has a decay inhibitor, as does anything with peanuts in it or cheese. Sugared drinks aren't too bad, either, but if you sip them all day they're terrible because your saliva doesn't have time between sips to do any repairs. Any sweets that you eat during a meal have practically no effect on tooth decay because they're all part of one acid attack that hopefully your body will have time to fully repair before the next snack or meal.


Are all black discolorations on tooth surface considered caries?
No, black discolorations can be just stains or can be caries. Your dentist will be happy to help you diagnose carious teeth and remember the earlier the caries is detected the better the prognosis of the treatment.

What are the different types of tooth filling materials?
There are three main types of filling materials:
1) Amalgam Filling (Metal restoration material)
2) Composite Filling (Tooth colored restoration material)
3) Glass-ionomer Filling (Fluoride releasing material)

Why not use tooth colored restoration material in all teeth?
Sometimes a tooth colored restoration is contraindicated where the strong amalgam filling, or the fluoride releasing glass-ionomer material is the material of choice. Let your dentist choose the best restoration material for your case.

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