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Can Preventing Cavities Also Prevent Tooth Loss?

Dr. Hellwig Oct 7, 2016

Toothpaste on a toothbrush next to a dental mirrorAdult tooth loss can be devastating to your self-esteem and make daily activities, like eating or smiling difficult. Dental cavities are a major contributing factor to tooth loss in adults. Fortunately, cavities are often preventable and don't need to result in tooth loss. Restorative dentistry treatments can help reverse the damage of dental cavities, improving oral health and preventing further damage, including tooth loss. To discover your treatment options for tooth loss and cavities, schedule a consultation with San Diego, CA dentist Peter Hellwig. In the meantime, read on to learn how preventing cavities can also prevent tooth loss.   

What Causes Cavities?

Dental cavities, also called caries, are a form of tooth decay caused by bacteria found in plaque. Plaque bacteria feed on sugars from foods and drinks and excrete acid. Because plaque is sticky, bacteria and the acids they excrete stay in contact with the teeth, eventually eroding the outer enamel layer. If left untreated, bacteria will continue to erode the enamel, creating a small hole in the tooth.

How Can Cavities Lead to Tooth Loss?

Cavities are dangerous to oral health if left untreated. As cavities grow and bacteria reach the internal structures of the teeth, dental health is put at great risk. Once a cavity develops, it will continue to damage the tooth, eventually infecting the tissues responsible for nourishing the teeth and controlling dental sensitivity within the root canal.

Root canal infections can lead to tooth loss by causing the infected tooth to die or the infection may become so bad that the tooth requires extraction. Extraction is often necessary with severe root canal infections and tooth decay to restore oral health. Cavities may also lead to tooth loss as a result of severe structural damage to a tooth. In other words, a tooth may be so decayed that it falls out or so damaged that it needs to be extracted.

Treatments for Cavities and Tooth Loss

Some of the signs of a dental cavity includes a toothache, pain when chewing, increased dental sensitivity, and a visible hole in the tooth. If you experience any of these issues, it's important to undergo a dental exam to ensure the health of your teeth. If a cavity is detected, there are many treatments available to restore oral health, including:

  • Tooth-colored fillings
  • Dental crowns
  • Root canal therapy
  • Inlays and onlays

If dental damage is too severe to repair, extraction may be necessary, or a tooth may fall out on its own. Fortunately, there are treatment options for restoring missing teeth, such as:

  • Dental bridges
  • Traditional removable dentures
  • Dental implants with crowns, bridges, or dentures

Preventing Cavities and Tooth Loss

Preventing cavities is one of the best ways to prevent tooth loss and protect your smile. All it takes is a commitment to practicing good oral hygiene habits, including:

  • Brushing twice a day: Brushing the teeth at least twice a day for a full two minutes each brushing is a highly effective way to remove harmful plaque and bacteria from the teeth, reducing the risk of cavities.
  • Flossing once a day: Flossing at least once a day is just as important to oral health as brushing. Flossing removes plaque from between the teeth and along the gum line, reducing the risk of gum disease or decay between the teeth.
  • Seeing your dentist for regular exams and cleanings: Dental exams and cleanings should be performed every six months and are a great way to catch damage early or prevent it altogether.

Learn More about Your Treatment Options

To find out which treatments are right for you, or for more tips to protect your smile, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hellwig.

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