Tooth Decay Treatment in Asheville

Cavities Aren’t Just for Kids

John Highsmith, DDS in Clyde, NC

Keeping up with your dentistry in Asheville is no small thing – even if what we look for and treat might seem like it. Take tooth decay, for instance. Tooth decay, sometimes called caries, starts so small you would never notice it. In fact, the first stage of tooth decay can start as a tiny white spot. And who notices a white spot on a white tooth? Your Clyde and Asheville dentist, that’s who!

Dr. John Highsmith has more training, more experience, and more high-tech equipment than you would think possible–and much of it is geared directly toward finding your seemingly simple caries. You see, tiny as cavities or other forms of tooth decay may be to start, they can lead to all kinds of problems.

These problems include :

  • Abscess
  • Inflammation
  • Tooth shifting and loss
  • Chewing difficulty and nutritional deficiency
  • Lost school or work hours because of pain
  • Gum disease
  • Heart and lung issues
  • And much more

The truth is, though tooth decay is common, we do not consider it normal. Cavities can be prevented or treated before they progress! It’s why your Asheville dentist encourages frequent checkups and cleanings and checks your oral health with the DIAGNOdent pen, a special device that uses laser fluorescence detection to show even the earliest beginnings of caries and periodontitis.

Tooth decay is the disease known as caries. Fortunately, this is a disease that is highly treatable by your Asheville dentist, especially when caught early. Tooth decay occurs when your teeth are frequently exposed to foods containing carbohydrates (starches and sugars) like soda pop, candy, ice cream, milk, cakes, and even fruits, vegetables, and juices. Natural bacteria live in your mouth and form plaque. The plaque interacts with deposits left on your teeth from sugary and starchy foods to produce acids. These acids damage tooth enamel over time by dissolving, or demineralizing, the mineral structure of teeth, producing tooth decay and weakening the teeth. We’ve seen an epidemic of cavities caused by sugary sodas. Drinking lots of sodas is horrible for your teeth! A couple a week might not hurt you, but several a day is asking for trouble–and a lot of dental work! In fact, any kind of snacking or sipping throughout the day contributes to tooth decay. Water is your friend!
Years of soda drinking led to the destruction of this 22-year-old man’s teeth. Be sure to look at the Smile Gallery page to see the happy ending!
Tooth decay can also begin and be aggravated by things like:
  • Dry mouth
  • Certain medications and health conditions
  • Braces
  • Heartburn and acid reflux
  • Eating disorders
  • Lack of Fluoride
  • Old and worn dental repairs
Whatever is leading to or aggravating tooth decay or caries, remember this: It is caused by bacteria, and those bacteria can be spread. That’s right. Tooth decay is actually an infectious disease. If you don’t take care of your teeth for yourself, do it for your loved ones! Your Asheville dentist is here to help.
The acids formed by plaque can be counteracted by simple saliva in your mouth, which acts as a buffer and remineralization agent. Your Clyde dentist often recommends chewing sugarless gum to stimulate your flow of saliva. However, though it is the body’s natural defense against caries, saliva alone is not sufficient to combat tooth decay.
The best way to prevent caries is to brush and floss regularly. To rebuild the early damage caused by plaque bacteria, we use fluoride, a natural substance that helps to remineralize the tooth structure. Fluoride is added to toothpaste to fight cavities and clean teeth. The most common source of fluoride is in the water we drink. Fluoride is added to most community water supplies and to many bottled and canned beverages. If you are at medium to high risk for caries, your dentist may recommend special high concentration fluoride gels, mouth rinses, or dietary fluoride supplements. Your Asheville dentist may also use professional strength anti-cavity varnish, or sealants–thin, plastic coatings that provide an extra barrier against food and debris.
Because we all carry bacteria in our mouths, everyone is at risk for tooth decay, otherwise known as caries. Unfortunately, some people are at higher risk than others. Children and senior citizens are the two groups at the highest risk for caries. In addition, those with a diet high in carbohydrates and sugary foods and those who live in communities without fluoridated water are likely candidates for caries. And because the area around a restored portion of a tooth is a good breeding ground for bacteria, those with a lot of fillings also have a higher chance of developing tooth decay.
The best way to combat caries and cavities is to follow three simple steps:
  • Cut down on sweets and between-meal snacks. Remember, it’s these sugary and starchy treats that put your teeth at extra risk.
  • Brush after every meal and floss daily. Cavities most often begin in hard-to-clean areas between teeth and in the fissures and pits–the rough and uneven parts of your dental enamel. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush inside, outside and between your teeth and on the top of your tongue. Be sure the bristles are firm, not bent, and replace the toothbrush after a few weeks to safeguard against reinfecting your mouth with old bacteria that can collect on the brush. Only buy toothpastes and rinses that contain fluoride (antiseptic rinses also help remove plaque) and that bear the American Dental Association seal of acceptance logo on the package. Children under six should only use a pea-sized dab of toothpaste on the brush and should spit out as much as possible because a child’s developing teeth are sensitive to higher fluoride levels. Finally, because caries is a transmittable disease, toothbrushes should never be shared, especially with your children.
  • See your dentist in Asheville and Clyde at least every six months for checkups and professional cleanings. Because caries can be difficult to detect, a thorough dental examination is very important. If you get a painful toothache, if your teeth are very sensitive to hot or cold foods, or if you notice signs of decay like white spots, tooth discolorations or cavities, make an appointment right away. The longer you wait to treat infected teeth the more intensive and lengthy the treatment will be. Left neglected, caries can lead to root canal infection, permanent deterioration of decayed tooth substance, and even loss of the tooth itself.
Don’t risk your smile or your health to tooth decay! If it has been a while since your last checkup, call Dr. Highsmith, your Asheville dentist, and schedule a checkup. We will be happy to talk you through your oral health needs and get your mouth to ideal health.