Cavities - Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the disease known as caries or cavities. Most people are affected to some degree by tooth decay at some point in their lives. Decay, however, is highly preventable. Tooth decay occurs when your teeth are frequently exposed to foods containing carbohydrates (starches and sugars) like soda pop, candy, ice cream, cake and even foods that are considered healthy such as milk, vegetables, fruits and juices. Bacteria live in our mouth and interact with deposits left on our teeth after eating and drinking. Sugars and starches are converted to acids, which can damage tooth enamel by dissolving or de-mineralizing the tooth structure. This eventually results in decay.

The acids formed by bacteria and plaque can be counteracted by saliva in your mouth, which acts a buffering agent. People with drier mouths, resulting from reduced salivary flow, tend to have a higher incidence of decay than people with a more typical salivary flow. However, saliva alone is not enough to combat decay.

The best way to prevent caries is to brush and floss regularly, removing the harmful plaque build-up. To rebuild any early damage caused by acids, we use fluoride, a natural substance that helps to re-mineralize tooth structure. The most common source of fluoride is tap water, but it is also found in toothpaste, some mouthwashes, and some bottled and canned beverages. If you are a medium to high risk for decay, your dentist may recommend a prescriptive, high concentration fluoride gel or mouth rinse for use at home. Your dentist may also use a protective plastic barrier for the chewing surface of the tooth called a sealant. Sealants prevent debris from being impacted into the grooves of the tooth, thereby effectively reducing chewing surface decay.

To help reduce the chance for decay, you should:

  • Cut down on sweets and between meal snacks. These sugary and starchy treats put your teeth at risk.
  • Brush after every meal and floss at least once a day.
  • Purchase toothpastes that contain fluoride.
  • See your dentist at least every 6 months for check-ups and professional cleanings.

If you have any questions about dental decay, Dr. Mahlin would be happy to discuss them with you.

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Everyone at the practice is super friendly, starting from the front desk to Dr. Mahlin. I normally get the first appointment in the morning and I have never had to wait. I have been going to them for probably 20 years and have never had an issue that isn't promptly resolved. Last time I had my crown done, Dr. Mahlin even gave me his mobile number in case of an issue. I'll definitely recommend them.

Sanjiv Bhatia

Dr. Mahlin and his staff are absolutely wonderful! His bedside manner is among the best, if not the best, when it comes to compassionate, patient-centered care. He even called me after I had a new crown placed just to see how I was doing. He's thoughtful, gentle (both as a person and as a dentist), and most importantly is excellent at dentistry! His staff couldn't be friendlier or more accomodating and I have never had a long wait in the waiting room. I would give him 10 stars if this rating scale allowed it!

Gregory Polites

Kim, my hygienist, is the best, she has a passion for insuring she does her best to ensure patient comfort and that I will leave with the cleanest teeth and gums as well as a plan for addressing potential issues! Dr. Mahlin is very professional in his final inspection and verification of any of Kim's findings while performing the cleaning. An added bonus that Dr. Mahlin provides is a follow up call in the evening to ensure that your experience that day for treatment has gone as expected and there aren't any abnormalities. Very Caring person!

John Helbing

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Scott Mahlin, DDS, FAGD, FICOI and Clarkson Dental Group, serving West St. Louis County area in Chesterfield, MO Disclaimer: This website is provided for information and education purposes only.  No doctor/patient relationship is established by your use of this website.  No dentistry diagnosis or treatment is being provided.  The information contained here should be used in consultation with a dentist of your choice.  No guarantees or warranties are made regarding any of the information contained within the website.  This website is not intended to offer specific medical or dental advice to anyone.  Further, this web site and Dr. Scott Mahlin, DDS, FAGD, FICOI take no responsibility for web sites hyperlinked to this site and such hyperlinking does not imply any relationships or endorsements. Please contact us with any concerns.


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