Dental Blog

Why Does Tooth Decay Happen - and How Can I Prevent Cavities (and Potential Root Canals?)

Our Milton dentist has the facts on what you can do to protect your smile.

When tooth decay progresses to the point where it creates a hole in the tooth, a dental filling is in order - but if the damage has progressed beyond that, extended past the tooth’s dentin layer - a root canal treatment may be the only shot at saving the tooth.

But why does tooth decay happen in the first place, and what can we do to prevent this from happening altogether?

Let’s get into it.

How tooth decay and cavities occur

Tooth decay occurs when the teeth are regularly exposed to sugars and acids. When we consume sugary foods and/or beverages, the bacteria present in our mouths (namely streptococcus mutans, or s. mutans) thrive off these sugars and create a bacterial acid that then attacks the tooth enamel - with more damage occurring with each instance of sugar exposure.

These acidic attacks remove important minerals that build up our tooth enamel through a process called “demineralization” - often leading to a white spot on the tooth, signalling the early stage of tooth decay. Fortunately, in this stage, the tooth has a good chance of recovery (but only if sugar consumption is reduced and proper daily oral hygiene practices are made a priority).

Over time however, if enough of the tooth has been demineralized through constant instances of exposure to sugars and acids, a cavity or hole in the tooth will form. This will then require a dental filling by our Milton dentist to restore and prevent any further damage to the tooth.

With that said, here are five things you can do to prevent cavities and potential root canals down the line:

  • 1. Brush twice a day, every day

    Brushing regularly will help to keep your teeth clean and free of harmful plaque bacteria. Our Milton dentist recommends that patients brush twice daily using a fluoride toothpaste for two full minutes each time. It’s especially important to brush after eating any sugary foods… but make sure you wait 30 minutes after eating sugar before you brush. Sugary foods temporarily soften our enamel, so brushing them when they’re in this softened state might not be such a great idea.

  • 2. Floss once every day (don’t skip on this!)

    Our brushes alone are unable to adequately reach and clean the areas in between our teeth and below our gum line, where bacteria thrives. The good news is, flossing also eliminates plaque bacteria from in between the teeth, helping to prevent tooth decay. (Oh, and it’s completely necessary in order to prevent gum disease… so that’s another key reason to never skip flossing).

  • 3. Limit your intake of carb and sugar-based foods and beverages

    The more you consume carb and sugar-based foods and drinks, the more you’re putting your teeth at risk for decay. Try to limit the amount of these foods or beverages you consume, or reduce the number of times you snack throughout the day. If you can eat these foods at meal time/consume them less frequently throughout the day, that will make a difference!

  • 4. Swish it around!

    By swishing some water or milk around in your mouth after consuming carbs and/or sugars, you’ll be helping to bring down and neutralize the mouth’s acidity levels - also playing a role in helping to protect you from decay.

  • 5. Visit Southview Dental ideally every 6 months for a check-up and cleaning

    Regular check-ups with our dentist in Milton are extremely important in order to catch tooth decay early on before it’s so extensive that it requires root canal therapy. If your tooth has a cavity that needs a filling, get it filled… don’t wait until that decay grows! (Because trust us, it will).

We can win the fight against tooth decay together!

We hope this guide helps you on your journey to preventing tooth decay, cavities, and - potential root canal treatment down the road.

And remember - if it’s been a while since your last dental visit, book a visit with us at our new office in Milton today!

preventing root canals

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In Need of Dental Care in Milton?

At Southview Dental, we understand how much of an impact your oral health has on your entire body. Your smile should be healthy, functional, and one you're proud to show off! That’s why our dental team offers a wide variety of quality dental treatments to patients of all ages. So whatever your unique dental needs are for your one-of-a-kind smile, we’ve got you covered. Has it been over six months since you’ve last had a professional look after your smile? Our Milton dentist and team would love to see you for a check-up and cleaning! Contact us today to book an appointment.