Tooth decay, or cavities, destroys tooth enamel and eventually tooth dentine over time. Plaque, a sticky coating of bacteria develops on teeth and when sugery foods or drinks are consumed, this bacteria produces acids that erode the tooth which can lead to cavities.
A filling can be used to replace a damaged/decayed area of the tooth using either a white (composite) or silver (amalgam) material.
To help prevent cavities:
- Teeth should be brushed gently every morning and evening, using a fluoride toothpaste.
- Tooth brushing should always be done away from the gums - that is, down from the top teeth and up from the bottom teeth. This, together with a soft toothbrush, helps to also prevent gums receding. Ask your dentist to show you how best to brush your teeth if you are unsure.
- Avoidance of sugary foods and drinks is also very important in the prevention of cavities and maintenance of healthy teeth.
- If sugary foods or drinks are unavoidable, brush teeth immediately afterwards as acid will develop and attacks on teeth happen within 30 minutes.
- Visit the dentist every 6 months for a check-up. The dentist can detect cavities in their early stages and treat them before they develop further.