Prevention of Dental Caries
Caries is a pathological process that involves the destruction of hard tooth tissues. This is one of the most common oral diseases in children and adults. Despite the variety of effective methods of treating caries and restoring the normal shape of teeth, it is better to prevent their destruction. The prevention of caries is based on the fight against its main causes.
Why caries occurs
The main cause of caries is the vital activity of microorganisms, but prevention is mainly not aimed at combating them. A lot of bacteria live in the human oral cavity, and their number can reach a million in 2–4 hours after brushing. They are located on the surface of the teeth and can negatively affect the enamel. Some types of streptococci deserve special attention. These microorganisms are part of the normal microflora, and caries does not develop in the absence of factors weakening the body’s defenses.
If bacteria get favorable conditions for active reproduction, their amount increases. They produce an organic acid, which literally dissolves the enamel areas. “Favorable conditions” include: a good breeding ground for microorganisms, a decrease in local or general protective forces that fight streptococci, or a combination of these factors.
Factors that provoke the growth of cariogenic bacteria:
- hereditary predisposition. Fine enamel with a weak structure can be inherited from parents. In this case, the tissues withstand the effects of acids worse, and caries can develop from an early age;
- thinning of enamel associated with a violation of mineral metabolism or lack of minerals. The main reasons are diets or a poor diet, gastrointestinal diseases, in which nutrients are absorbed worse;
- increased viscosity of saliva. With insufficient saliva fluidity, the enamel surface is not washed properly, plaque remains and quickly accumulates on the teeth. changes in the viscosity and composition of saliva may be associated with systemic diseases, infections, endocrine disorders, etc.;
- crowding of teeth, malocclusion. A tight fit of teeth to each other makes hygiene difficult; a large amount of plaque and food debris accumulates on and near contact surfaces;
- lack of hygiene or improper hygiene, eating sugary, sticky foods;
- features of labor activity: work in hazardous production associated with the inhalation of acid fumes;
- chipped and cracked teeth: exposed enamel and uneven surface are more susceptible to harmful effects.
There is only one reason for the development of caries but there are many mechanisms of development. Therefore, it is so important to monitor the general state of health in order to prevent diseases of the oral cavity. However, there are several specific methods of dental caries prevention.
The most common cause of tooth decay is poor oral hygiene. Prevention and treatment of dental caries begins with the removal of soft plaque, because it is a breeding ground for bacteria. These are recommendations on how to significantly reduce the risk of enamel destruction:
- brush your teeth at least twice a day and do it right: the movements should be sweeping – from the gums to the edges of the tooth crowns. The cleaning process should take at least 3 minutes;
- when cleaning teeth, pay attention not only to the teeth but also to the tongue, gums, the inner surface of the cheeks;
- choose the right brush: a soft bristle is suitable for people suffering from inflammatory diseases of the gums, periodontal disease. Medium hard bristles are optimal for most people. A hard brush is indicated for increased formation of plaque, as well as for those who loves tea and tobacco, such a brush can be used only with good health gums and strong enamel;
- be sure to use dental floss. Floss will help to cope with food debris in the interdental spaces;
- apply mouthwashes (without ethanol) after eating, during the day;
- when choosing a toothpaste, several conditions should be taken into account: large abrasive particles in the composition are contraindicated for people with thinned, damaged enamel, cracks. Even if you have good oral health, you should not get involved in abrasive pastes. High fluoride pastes can be helpful in prevention, but only adults can use them.
Means of caries prevention
General methods of caries prevention, such as toothpastes containing fluoride and calcium, dental floss with fluoride, can be used with almost no restrictions. Even fluorosis is not always a contraindication to the use of such agents. If the patient has concomitant oral diseases, the dentist may recommend specific home prophylaxis measures. For example, in chronic inflammatory diseases of the mucous membranes and / or gums, a mouthwash with anti-bacterial components may be used.
Prevention of caries is not limited to home care. In dentistry, there are a number of procedures that can effectively cope with dental deposits, as well as restore the normal mineral balance of enamel.
Professional brushing is indicated for absolutely every person. With a good initial condition of the oral cavity, cleaning is carried out twice a year for preventive purposes. If the patient wears orthodontic designs or is prone to the formation of a large amount of pigmented plaque in connection with the use of tea, coffee, smoking, it may be recommended to undergo the procedure 3 times a year.
The choice of cleaning method is determined individually. Air flow is a good way to remove soft plaque. Enamel surface is cleaned by blasting with a mixture of air, water and a soft abrasive. Ultrasonic cleaning is used to remove solid deposits – tartar. If large subgingival stones occur, other methods may be used.
The final step in any cleaning is polishing. The smooth surface of the enamel is less susceptible to accumulation of plaque, which also serves as a condition for preventing the disease.
Modern methods of caries prevention provide for timely restoration of the mineral balance of tooth hard tissues. Remineralizing therapy can be the final stage of professional hygiene or used as an independent method. In case of caries at the stage of a white spot, the doctor repairs the damaged area of enamel separately.
Prophylactic agents for all teeth are also used to saturate the enamel with calcium and fluorine, for example, fluoride varnish, gel in mouthguards, etc. Additional fluoridation can be carried out at home, but it is important to consult your dentist about the choice of means, method of their use, diagnosis, and caries risk assessment.
Cabinet prophylactic procedures also include sealing fissures – natural depressions on the chewing surface of the teeth. In some people, fissures have a droplet-like appearance. Through a narrow hole, food particles get inside the recess, and it is very difficult to clean them from there. This increases the risk of tooth decay. Mechanical sealing with special dental sealant eliminates such risks. Sealing is used in pediatric and adult dentistry, the difference is only in the compositions for the procedure.
One way to prevent tooth decay is proper nutrition. Dentists provide the following general recommendations:
- restriction of sweets. It is better to avoid confectionery and chocolate, dried fruits, honey; soda – stewed fruit. It is important to know the measure and not to consume too much carbohydrates, and rinse your mouth after each intake of such food;
- balanced diet. The menu should contain fermented milk products, cheese, fresh herbs, nuts, meat, low-fat fish so that hard tooth tissues can get the right amount of minerals;
- the use of solid foods. Apples, carrots, and other hard fresh vegetables and fruits are not only useful, but they also mechanically clean the enamel, stimulate blood circulation in the gums, which helps to maintain oral health;
- pay attention to the temperature of food and drinks. It is better not to use extremely hot or cold foods, and especially not to alternate them. Otherwise, the enamel may become covered with microcracks, and this contributes to the accumulation of plaque and the growth of bacteria;
- careful use of solid foods. It is better to eat nuts and other extremely hard foods carefully, make sure that the particles do not get stuck in the interdental spaces and fissures.
The most reliable method of caries prevention is regular visits to the dentist. If you have no problems in the oral cavity, you can only contact a hygienist. In addition, it is convenient to combine examination with professional brushing. Check-ups are carried out with the same frequency – twice a year.
Why is it important? It is often possible to notice caries with the naked eye only when a small carious cavity has already formed or an increased sensitivity of the tooth has appeared. At the stage of a white spot or a small dark point, the pathological process is simply invisible, especially if the teeth of the lateral group are affected. It is difficult to see the beginning caries on the inside of the incisors.
Caries at the initial stage can be cured without a drill: the chalk stain can be eliminated by remineralizing therapy or the Icon method, and the surface lesion can be eliminated with the least loss of the tooth’s own tissues. That is why it is worth visiting the dentist every 6 months, the specialist will promptly identify and quickly eliminate possible violations.
You do not need to wait for a scheduled examination if you get the following symptoms:
- hypersensitivity of one or several teeth;
- toothache of any nature and intensity;
- bleeding gums;
- noticeable color changes of enamel.
It is necessary to visit dentists of other areas (orthodontist, orthopedist, surgeon, periodontist) in the presence of certain diseases. It is necessary to correct the occlusion and the position of the teeth with the corresponding violations and defects, to treat inflammatory gum diseases and periodontal disease in time. Seals and orthopedic structures should also be replaced in a timely manner.
Children should visit the dentist more often – up to four times a year. This is due to the fact that the enamel of children’s teeth is thinner, and pathological processes develop rapidly.
Category: Health and Wellness
Tags: dental care, dental caries, Dentist, teeth health