You know that sinking feeling when your dentist checks out your x-rays with a furrowed brow and then tells you that it’s time to schedule an appointment for a filling? Nobody likes hearing the news that they have a cavity. If you’re one of the tens of millions of people who suffer from dental anxiety, getting a filling can be a nightmare. But even for people who don’t fear the dentist, no one wants to lose an hour to a filling appointment.
The problem is, by the time you’re hearing the bad news, it’s already too late to go back to having perfectly healthy teeth. But if you’re proactive about your oral health care, you can make sure that your x-rays are squeaky clean and you don’t have to hear those dreaded words from your dentist!
Cavity Prevention 101
You probably know that brushing and flossing are key to preventing cavities. But if you aren’t brushing and flossing properly and with the right materials, even those good habits can’t save your teeth from decay.
The goal of brushing and flossing is to remove plaque from your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film packed with bacteria that forms on the teeth. If you don’t remove plaque twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush (and daily use of dental floss for the plaque that forms between the teeth), those bacteria will produce acids that eat away at your enamel, eventually forming a cavity.
If you want to give your toothbrush an extra hand, it’s important to use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride not only prevents mineral loss and helps replaced lost minerals in the enamel, but it also inhibits the ability of bacteria to produce acids.
Those bacteria feed off of sugar and starches, so the more you can reduce those things in your diet, the easier it will be for your teeth to fight off decay. And of course, just as the acids that bacteria produce can damage your enamel, other acids can weaken it, too. Acidic drinks like coffee, wine, and sodas can do a lot of damage and open your teeth up to cavities.
If a Filling Is Unavoidable…
Unfortunately, even the best of us still sometimes end up with cavities. If you need to get a filling, it doesn’t have to be a miserable experience.
If you experience anxiety at the dentist, sedation dentistry can help you get through the appointment without stress. And don’t worry about fillings ruining the appearance of your smile. Instead of amalgam fillings that show up as dark spots in your mouth, you can get fillings made from a durable composite resin that are custom-tinted to perfectly match your tooth for a natural look. Tooth-colored fillings last just as long as amalgam fillings, and can actually help your tooth retain more of its structure and insulate it against temperature changes and potential breakage.