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We heard it when we were kids, and we have said it to our kids: “Brush your teeth so that you don’t cavities.” It’s true that cavities generally affect children more than they affect adults, but make no mistake, cavities can occur at any age!

The process by which cavities form is deceptively simple. Plaque, which is a film containing bacteria is constantly forming on our teeth. That bacteria interacts with the sugar in our food and drinks to create an acid, which then attacks the enamel on our teeth. Because plaque is so sticky, it can keep those acids on your teeth for a long time. If those acids are present long enough, the enamel will break down, which will open the door for a cavity to form.

As we said before, kids are more cavity prone than adults, but there is no age at which cavities stop forming. As we get older, our gums recede which can make us susceptible to cavities at the roots of our teeth, or around previous fillings. Children and adults are often at risk for what are called coronal cavities. These develop on the chewing surfaces of your teeth, or between your teeth.

Until we feel some sensitivity or pain, we may not know that you even have a cavity in the making, since they develop below the tooth’s surface. The only person who will know for sure if you have a cavity is your dentist, and they will be able to determine that after an exam and x-rays.

Here are some tips to keep cavities at bay.

Ideally, you should brush after every meal. If that is not possible, brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time, and floss before going to bed; use a toothpaste with fluoride. Drink plenty of water, especially tap water with fluoride when you can. Along with the extra fluoride, water will wash away the bacteria in your mouth. Limit or avoid foods with sugar and starch.

Finally, visit your dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and exam. We can’t overstate the need to brush your teeth, but a cleaning at the dentist’s office will remove the plaque and tartar that you may have missed. Your dentist will be able to give you a thorough exam and take x-rays to see if any cavities are forming or there are other issues that need to be addressed.

Dr. Scott Timmons & Justin Gangestad at Baxter Dental in Baxter, Minnesota, will be happy to see you for a cleaning and an exam. If it’s time for your six-month checkup or you are looking for a dentist, contact our office today at 218-829-4207 for an appointment.