Since the beginning of time, teeth have played an indispensable role in the life of human beings. Throughout the course of history, mankind has been depending on the strength of teeth to successfully chew food which is vital for nourishment. Their importance cannot be taken for granted if one remembers that there once was a time when all the foods we cook were once eaten raw. Survival of the human race, therefore, owes some part of itself to the integrity of the teeth. It is hardly surprising therefore that a healthy set of teeth are a must-have for everyone.
Today, teeth are much more than tools for breaking down food, they also play a big role in cosmesis and that’s why you need to know how to prevent cavities in adults. Unfortunately, human teeth are arguably subjected to the widest variety of conditions because of the huge variety of foods at our disposal. Very hot, very cold and everything in between, very sweet, very sour, very bitter and any attempt at listing every condition which human teeth encounter is an impossible task. Because of this, there is growing attention in the fields that seek to prevent damage, correct and restore the function and integrity of teeth, dentistry.
Specialties within dentistry
In the last century, great strides have been made in the advancement of human health. The number of specialties and subspecialties have also increased as a result. Dental health has not been left behind. Fields within the professions include endodontists, periodontists, and orthodontists. Worth noting is that this list is hardly exhaustive for there are many other branches within these. One may wonder why there are so many subspecialties within such a relatively small area. Well, wonder no more, the successive paragraphs will attempt to quench that curiosity.
The Challenge faced by teeth
Once milk teeth fall off, the next set of teeth that sprout are supposed to last the owner an entire lifetime and that’s why you need to know how to prevent cavities in adults. The human body is not capable of regenerating more teeth beyond this set. This is in stark contrast to other parts of the human body that are capable of regeneration and renewal, hair and skin being excellent examples. This simple fact of biology gives a unique set of challenges to the human teeth. In an ideal world, they should not rot, break or fall out before the person dies. Humans, unfortunately, do not live ideal lives and all of those mishaps are likely to happen several times over to any person during their lifetime. This inevitable eventuality is what has necessitated the growth of dentistry as a profession and on a daily basis, the question of why you need to know how to prevent cavities in adults visits people more often than not. Lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking and our eating habits all become points of scrutiny as humans try their best to increase the lifespan and health of their teeth.
Why take care of teeth?
Taking care of one’s teeth confers a lot of health benefits to an individual and that’s is why you need to know how to prevent cavities in adults. Diseased teeth can be a source of intractable pain which reduces the quality of life and in the long run may become a huge expense in dental bills. In extreme cases, permanent disfigurement and even loss of life can occur if these conditions are not dealt with timeously and correctly. Healthy teeth make for a beautiful smile which for those in the beauty industry may be the thin line between
employment and joblessness.
What is a cavity?
Cavity formation or dental caries is one of the commonest oral conditions worldwide. It refers to the destruction of enamel, the hard outer surface of the tooth. Left untreated, the hole grows deeper into the inner structures of the teeth resulting in pain as the nerves in the tooth become exposed to the mouth. At this point, the tooth becomes very sensitive to cold or hot foods and beverages. The patient finds it hard if not impossible to chew using the side with the affected tooth. The tooth can become filled with pus with the formation of an abscess. More often than not the patient will require tooth extraction and aggressive treatment with a course of antibiotics if the disease progresses to this stage. And this is the last thing you would want to go through and that’s why you need to prevent cavities as an adult.
Rinsing the mouth with water
The question of why you need to know how to prevent cavities in adults is therefore one worth asking and more importantly, answering. Teeth complete a beautiful smile so it’s important you take care of your teeth. The mouth should be rinsed with water after eating any type of food. This helps dislodge any solid food particles from tooth surfaces that may serve as food for bacteria. In addition, it also washes off acid-containing liquids which can cause corrosion on enamel.
Reducing starch foods
Reducing sugary foods in one’s diet plays a protective role by reducing the amount of food available for bacteria to feed on. The bacteria act on the starch-containing food particles to form lactic acid which softens enamel and makes the teeth vulnerable to cavitation and chipping. In some circumstances, this overgrowth of bacteria can generate bad mouth odor
Reduce extremely hot or cold foods
Another factor on how to prevent cavities in adults is avoiding consuming very hot and very cold foods and beverages. The extremes of temperatures cause minute cracks within the enamel of the teeth which can progressively get wider with the passage of time. Food particles can then accumulate within and promote bacterial growth and cavity formation
This is one of the most cost-effective and relatively easy methods one can use to prevent dental cavities. The appropriate toothbrush, toothpaste, and brushing methods should be used for maximum effectiveness. Brushing teeth at least twice daily is considered adequate for the prevention of cavity formation in adults. Toothbrushes with softer bristles are recommended as they are gentle on the gums and the enamel of the teeth. The toothbrush should be changed every 3 to 4 months as it becomes less effective at removing debris as the bristles wear out. Brushing with proper toothpaste also helps the teeth prevent cavities by strengthening enamel and teeth whitening.
Flossing is used in conjunction with brushing because it helps dislodge debris trapped in between the teeth which regular brushing may not be able to remove.
- Using mouthwash
Swishing with mouthwash before bed is another useful way of preventing cavities as an adult. Most mouthwashes achieve this by killing the bacteria responsible for cavitation and by strengthening teeth through the fluoride which they often contain.
- Visiting a dental practice
A visit to the dental clinic for a regular checkup or dental treatment is another way of preventing cavities as an adult. This should be done at 6 monthly intervals or annually depending on the dental care needs of a patient. Those with ongoing treatment may require more frequent visits. The finer details will be discussed between the health care provider and the patient.
- Normal dentistry
The first port of call for a patient seeking dental health is a general dentist. A detailed dental history coupled with a dental exam is usually sufficient to identify risk factors for cavity formation as well as pick early signs of cavity formation. If general dentistry is not sufficient for the needs of the patient and there is need for specialist care, the patient is referred. Referred patients may end up being managed by one of the specialties mentioned before depending on the nature of the problem that is being dealt with. It is common for the patient to be managed by a multidisciplinary team as the patient may require several different procedures to be performed as part of the treatment package.
At times, the patient may require nothing more than bad tooth extraction and a single tooth replacement. This will require the service and expertise of a Prosthodontist. The choice of the replacement will depend on the needs of the patient, the functionality desired from the tooth, and the cosmetic requirements. Titanium and zirconia implants are the two commonest materials in use. All this care will come at a cost to the patient. The medical billing for the services rendered will be settled by the patient’s medical insurance. In instances where there are additional expenses, the patient will need to pay out of their own pocket. The specifics differ by locale and most dental health care providers have detailed plans which outline the expenses covered by the health insurance and those that are not covered.
Medical malpractice in dentistry
Dental practice just like any other branch of medicine can also be plagued by medical malpractice. In cases such as these, the patient needs adequate knowledge and guidance on how best to deal with the problem or complications arising. Occasionally, the error in treatment may be readily corrected. In more severe cases, there may be lifelong or even debilitating effects. These are usually dealt with in the courts of law and appropriate compensation may be made depending on the outcome. Some providers may prefer out-of-court settlements which may be more practical than protracted legal battles.
- Oral health
While the thrust of this article is on how to prevent cavities in adults, patients always need to be aware that dental health issues do not usually occur in isolation. Diseases such as diabetes mellitus have a huge impact on oral health. This disease, for example, delays wound healing if it is poorly controlled. Because of this, patients presenting to dental care centers should always be screened regularly for these diseases. This helps in anticipating potential complications that may arise in patients with such comorbidities and planning for such eventualities. In the end, it makes it possible for the patients to get optimal care that is tailored for their individual needs.
- Women’s health care
Womens health care likewise, should also be closely integrated with dental care. It is vital that these women are also taught the methods of how to prevent cavities in adults. There is sufficient evidence that a high proportion of pregnant women are at risk of developing cavities. Factors such as changes in eating habits are often found to be responsible for this heightened risk. More concerning is the fact that the women with huge amounts of cavity-causing bacteria in their oral cavities when pregnant are likely to transmit that bacteria to their babies after delivery. This in itself is a high-risk factor for childhood dental cavity formation and increases the chances of the need for frequent and costly childhood dental care. Furthermore, women who are pregnant are often wary of having dental procedures done on them because of perceived anesthetic complications that they feel may affect their unborn babies. The result is that cavities that may have been identified and attended to early are left to increase in size and often require more aggressive and more expensive treatment later.
The importance of oral health and putting extra effort to take care of your teeth cannot be stressed enough. The message to the communities should be focused on how to prevent cavities in adults and why. Well, we all want to smile with confidence and feel beautiful. So why not prevent cavities as an adult! Without cavities to worry about resources both financially can then be channeled towards other expenses. If this problem of cavities is dealt with through prevention you guarantee yourself a healthier vibrant smile.