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Occlusal Cavities: What To Know And How To Prevent Them

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Have you ever heard us use the term occlusal cavity? An occlusal cavity is the term we use to describe the tooth decay that occurs on the chewing surface of a tooth.

cavities cincinnati dentist

Everyone has peaks and valleys in their teeth, which creates grooves of varying depths, depending on the tooth. These grooves can be more susceptible to damage, bacterial growth and tooth decay, especially when the grooves are deep. Molars tend to have the deepest grooves, which is one of the reasons they tend to get more occlusal cavities than the other forward teeth (1).

Bacterial overgrowth in the mouth leads to a breakdown of both the enamel and the dentin. These holes lead to the decay and cavities of teeth that we all dread so much. Keeping bacteria and food out of these grooves is the best way to avoid occlusal decay (2).

How Can I Prevent an Occlusal Cavity?

So what are the best ways to keep bacteria at bay and avoid the havoc it wreaks on teeth? Make your mouth an environment in which bacteria doesn’t want to live! You can help minimize your chances of developing an occlusal cavity by incorporating these five daily habits:

  1. Brush daily: Twice a day, at least two minutes each time. Ensure your toothbrush is not more than three months old, and invest in a great paste that you love. Make this part of your morning and night routines!
  2. Floss daily: This is important to keep the parts of your teeth clean that brushing alone doesn’t reach. This includes crevices between the teeth and the areas near the gum lines. Many people slack on flossing, but it’s as important as daily brushing!
  3. Avoid sugar and sucrose: Bacteria feed on all foods, but especially love sugars. Sucrose is a specific type of sugar that is found in simple carbohydrates: things like candies, cookies, sugary drinks, and white flour products such as breads and cereals. To make matters worse, the breakdown of these foods also produces acid, which adds to the potential for damage and decay of the teeth (1,2).

  4. Check nutrition labels: This is a great habit to incorporate when you shop. Many processed foods, fat-free foods and even dairy products contain hidden sugars. You might be surprised to find you are ingesting more sugars than you originally thought (1)!
  5. Increase your water intake: Drinking water throughout your day helps remove sticky residues and food particles that would otherwise stick to your teeth. Swishing the water around your mouth is an effective way to clear the occlusal surfaces of your teeth after meals and snacks, when access to brushing and flossing might otherwise not be available (1,2,3).

Start incorporating these 5 tips into your day to avoid getting a cavity altogether. After all, prevention is the best medicine.

What If I Develop An Occlusal Cavity?

If you already suffer from an occlusal cavity – don’t stress. One of the reasons for regular dental checkups and cleanings is so that we can detect and treat these issues right away (3).

You never want to delay having an occlusal cavity filled: while they are typically painless, if you wait for pain to occur, it could mean the decay has spread deeper into your tooth!

Have More Questions About Cavity Prevention?

Contact us at Hagen Dental: 513-251-5500. We are passionate about helping you achieve optimal oral health and prevent decay. We can’t wait to meet you and your family.

Sources:

  1. http://dg-dentistry.com/what-is-an-occlusal-cavity/
  2. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-cavities#1
  3. https://crest.com/en-us/oral-care-topics/general-oral-hygiene/everything-you-need-to-know-about-a-cavity