If you dread going to the dentist, you’re not alone. About three out of every four people are afraid of visiting the dentist, even though today most dental visits involve little, if any, pain.
But don’t let fear of the dentist put you or your child at risk for tooth decay. If your dentist treats a cavity early, drilling can be brief and nearly painless, especially with anesthetics.
Here are some key facts about dental cavities:
Cavities can form because bacteria in your mouth produce acid when sugar is present. Drinking a sugary soda means acid is eating away at your teeth for at least 20 minutes.
The signs and symptoms of cavities and tooth decay can vary widely. When a cavity starts, you may not have any symptoms at all. That’s why regular visits to your dentist are so important. X-rays, exams and other tools can help your dentist detect the earliest stages of decay and help prevent it from getting worse.
However, if untreated, a cavity can cause:
The Mayo Clinic offers these tips to avoid dental cavities:
All you need to be a first-class brusher is fluoride toothpaste and a soft or extra-soft brush. Many people find an electric or battery-powered toothbrush keeps their teeth feeling clean.
How to brush. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, then use circular strokes to gently brush all surfaces. Don't scrub too hard—that can make your gums sore or even wear down tooth enamel over time. It’s best to brush gently for a little longer.
Keep your toothbrush clean. Always rinse it when you're done, and help it dry by storing it in the open air with the bristles up. Replace your worn toothbrush with a new one at least every three months.
Most dentists say flossing is just as important as brushing. Flossing removes food particles from between teeth and under the gums, lowering the risk of a tooth cavity or gum disease. So try to floss at least once a day.
And don’t forget, regular dentist visits are vital for preventing cavities and gum disease. So make those appointments twice a year.
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