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Dental diseases are like many other diseases of our bodies, caused mainly by bacteria.
Cavities are caused by bacteria breaking through the enamel layer of the tooth and reaching the softer dentin. The tooth demineralizes and becomes soft, most often turning brown but not always. Chalky whiteness seen on teeth is usually a sign of the start of the demineralization process in enamel. Sugars and acid (read between the lines - Soda pop) can cause extensive damage in a short period of time.
Prevention methods for avoiding cavities include brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day to remove plaque (soft food and bacteria) from teeth. Also avoid too much sugared pop with a lot of acid (Mountain Dew, Surge, etc.) Diet soda or water quenches thirst better than sugared ones. Sugar-free gum has been shown to stimulate saliva which protects teeth and remineralizes enamel. Flouride tablets or drops are prescribed where fluoride is not already in the water supply for those children from 6 months to 15 years. Topical fluoride in a tray or brush-on gel is effective for any age child or adult. Regular dental examinations and prophylaxis (cleaning) every 6 months will help catch cavities when they're small, before significant tooth structure is destroyed.
This picture is why it is important to take x-rays to find caries (cavities) in between teeth and why flossing is so important.
Periodontal Disease (gum disease) is also caused by bacteria, this time damaging the gums (gingiva) and bones (periodontium) around teeth. Bleeding, swollen, red gums are a sign of gum disease. This disease is only reversible in the very early stages of the disease. After the disease causes the gingiva or bone to recede, the best you can hope for is to keep the level the gingiva or bone is then at. Both become progressively lower as the disease worsens until the teeth begin to loosen as the supporting bone around the root is gone.
Prevention of periodontal disease includes brushing and flossing at least twice each day. Smoking is a very significant risk factor as the smoke debris clings to the root and roughens it allowing bacteria to also cling.
This picture shows the progression, from left to right, of periodontal disease as it appears on x-rays.
Cosmetic and Family Dentistry
Kevin W. Dens, DDS
Christopher K. Dens DDS
6980 Fairview Rd, Baxter, MN 56425
Keywords: Cosmetic, Dentist, Emergency, Implants, Baxter, MN, Bleaching, Veneers, Brainerd, MN
densdental.com Monday-Friday 8-4:30