Avoiding Cavities: A Quick Guide for Your Dental Assistant Career

Cavities are some of the most common preventable oral problems. They are the result of long-term tooth decay, which itself is caused by the erosion of the tooth’s enamel by acids. In our mouths live hundreds of kinds of bacteria. Much of this bacteria are a necessary part of keeping our mouths healthy and clean, but some of it is harmful. 

When these harmful bacteria encounter sugars and starches from food, they use it to create acids. This isn’t necessarily a problem, as minerals in our saliva will replace the minerals lost to acids. However, when the mineral loss occurs at a rate faster than it can be replenished, it becomes an issue. Over time, the enamel loss can culminate in a cavity. This is permanent damage that must be repaired by a dental professional with a filling. 

As a professional aspiring to a dental assistant career, you will be able to educate clients on how cavities occur, and importantly, how they can avoid them. Read on for more information. 

Diet Is an Important Factor in Cavity Prevention 

Because cavities are caused by acids formed by the collision of food particles and bacteria, being careful with what we eat is one of the best ways to guard against cavities. Advise your clients to limit the sugary food and drinks they eat, avoiding excesses of sodas and sweetened fruit juices. 

What we eat and how we eat is a central factor in cavity formation

Being careful with our eating habits applies not only to the types of food we eat, but also to how we eat. When we eat frequently throughout the day, it’s harder for our saliva to fight off bacteria. In your dental assistant career, you can advise clients to limit the snacks they eat between meals. The other way we should moderate the ways we eat is by avoiding eating before bed. Our saliva flow decreases while we’re asleep, so teeth are less able to repair their enamel. 

A Professional in a Dental Assistant Career Can Show Clients At-Home Dental Care 

One of the most important weapons in our arsenal against the attack of bacteria is fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that can prevent tooth decay from progressing, as well as reverse or stop the early stages of tooth decay. Fluoride is mainly accessed either through toothpaste and other dental products, or by drinking fluoridated water. 39% of Canadians have access to a community water supply enhanced with fluoride.

For the rest of us, we can brush with a fluoride toothpaste or rinse with a fluoride-containing mouthwash. Another important way we can guard against cavities is by cleaning between the teeth using dental floss or interdental cleaners. Food particles can get stuck between the teeth, where they stay and cause bacterial infections. 

Regular Dental Check-Ups Are Important for Cavity Prevention

After dental assistant training, you can advise clients to ensure they consistently visit the clinic for check-ups. During these check-ups clients can have dental plaque, the films of bacteria that affix themselves to teeth, removed. They can also have their teeth checked for signs of tooth decay and have fluoride gel or varnish applied as needed. 

Regular dental check-ups are important to prevent cavities from forming

One of the ways dental professionals can help clients avoid cavities is by using dental sealants. Dental sealants are thin coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth. They form barriers that stop bacteria from getting stuck there and leading to tooth decay. It is important for children to visit the dental clinic to have sealants applied when their back molars start to come in, between the ages of 7 and 9. 

Do you want to begin your dental assistant career

Contact Discovery Community College for more information! 


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