Cavity Prevention

Online Dental Education Library

Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.

Commonly Asked Questions:

I am allergic to latex. Is this a problem?  No, our office is latex-free.

My office just took an x-ray, why do you need to take one?  The more information we gather, the better we are able to care for you and your tooth. Our digital imaging program also allows us to measure the tooth, helping us to treat the tooth more quickly during treatment.

Will I need a crown after my root canal?  Do not be surprised if your dentist recommends a crown when you return to them. The tooth is weaker after root canal treatment and a crown is able to protect against breakage or fracture. If you already have a crown, you may only need a permanent filling.

Will there be pain after the root canal?  You should expect some minor biting and pressure sensitivity for 3-5 days after the root canal treatment. Over-the-counter medications, such as Ibuprofen or Advil, should help alleviate this.

What options does your office offer to help me relax during my treatment?  We are equipped to offer Nitrous Oxide Analgesia, also known as laughing gas. This affects everyone differently. Some patients get very sleepy on nitrous, while others are simply more relaxed. We can also offer intravenous moderate conscious sedation. for more information, please visit our Sedation Options page. If you are interested in either of these options, we would be happy to discuss it with you at your consult visit.

Why do you place a temporary filling?   You will be sore after your root canal treatment. We prefer to place a filling that is occlusally reduced so you do not bite too hard on it while you are healing. You will heal much quicker after treatment if the tooth is not occluded on.  Also, by waiting to have the permanent filling placed, we are better able to diagnose what could be causing symptoms later on.

Why can't I just take Antibiotics?  Antibiotics are carried in the blood stream to problem areas in the body so they can do their job. After a tooth has died, there is no blood flow into a tooth so the antibiotics never reach the source of the problem. Even though antibiotics do not solve the underlying problem, they can still be useful in relieving symptoms.

Saliva is your body's best mechanism for fighting the destructive forces of acids formed by plaque. Saliva acts as a buffer and remineralizing agent. Sugarless gum is one way to stimulate the flow of saliva in your mouth in between brushings.

The best way to prevent cavities, however, is to brush and floss on a regular basis. Fluoride, a natural substance which also helps remineralize the tooth structure, is used in community water systems and is a main ingredient of many toothpastes. If you are at medium to high risk for cavities, your dentist may recommend special high concentration fluoride gels, mouth rinses, or dietary fluoride supplements. You may even receive a treatment of professional strength anti-cavity varnish, or sealants, which are thin, plastic coatings that provide an extra barrier against food and debris.

While everyone is susceptible to cavities, people with a lot of fillings have a higher chance of developing tooth decay. Children and senior citizens are the two groups at highest risk for cavities. Heredity may play a major role in how susceptible you are to the formation of a cavity. For example, tooth structure, size, and shape of the tooth, may be passed down through many generations. This includes deep pits and grooves which are ideal "plaque traps".

Many cavities originate in the hard-to-clean areas between teeth, like fissures and pits, the edges in the tooth crown and gaps between teeth.

Children under the age of 6 should only use a pea-sized dab of toothpaste on their brush and should spit out as much as possible. The reason for this is that children are most sensitive to higher levels of fluoride.

Common symptoms of a possible cavity may include:

  • A painful toothache.
  • Higher sensitivity in your teeth to hot or cold temperatures, liquids, or foods.
  • The presence of decay such as white spots.
  • Tooth discolorations.
    Often, people develop cavities without any pain or other symptoms. That's why it's so important to schedule regular, routine visits with your dentist.

    Left untreated, cavities can lead to more serious problems such as infection of the core of your tooth (pulp) or root canal, permanent deterioration, and even loss of the tooth itself.

    Avoid frequent consumption of high sugar foods, especially sticky foods because the longer the food stays on your teeth and gums, the greater the likelihood a cavity will form. Healthy snacks that are low in sugar include white milk, fresh fruits, raw vegetables, dark breads, whole grain and enriched cereals, sugar free candies, gum and other snacks. High sugar foods are best eaten with a regular meal.