Did you know what is one of the most common dental problems dentists see and treat? Cavities. Most commonly seen in children, tooth decay can affect everyone. Our teeth need constant care and need to be thoroughly clean to avoid plaque build-up. Our teeth are a critical part of our day-to-day life; we need our teeth to break down food and speak which is why need to care for them. So, what is a cavity? Learn more about what it means to have tooth decay, how we get it, and how we can prevent from it happening.
What’s A Cavity?
Cavities, also known as dental caries or tooth decay, is the softening and destruction of the tooth’s enamel. When our tooth is continually being exposed to the acids bacteria breaks down from the sugar or carbohydrates found in our mouth, our tooth begins to develop a hole. A hole which can grow bigger and deeper over time if left untreated.
Our tooth consists of three layers, the hard, outer layer (the enamel), the middle layer (the dentin), and the center (the pulp). The more layers a cavity effects, the more damage there is to the tooth. Once the dentin layer of the tooth is affected, it’s known as a root cavity where you are likely to experience pain in your tooth when you eat and drink. Dental caries can often lead to infection, loss of a tooth, a root canal, or an abscess.
Cavities start to show symptoms as it progresses. Some of the symptoms you can experience are toothaches (brief or prolonged) and tooth sensitivity or pain when eating or drinking. If you noticed these cavity indicators, it’s time to visit the dentist, don’t wait until for your symptoms to worsen.
What Causes Cavities?
There are many reasons why a cavity can begin to form. Like most dental problems, depending on the severity of the issue, our tooth had to go through different stages.
There are many reasons why a cavity can begin to form. The most common cause of tooth decay is sugary and sticky foods and drinks which like to cling on to our teeth. Our diet is a significant contributor to what happens to our teeth. If we fed off a diet that lacks nutrient and has more sugar and carbohydrates, we are feeding the bacteria by allowing it to turn into acid. The acid that’s produced on our teeth causes our enamel to be vulnerable and exposed to being attacked. When our enamel is being exposed continuously by the acid and in close contact to our tooth, it’s what causes the breakdown and the formation of the hole, cavity.
But more factors play a role in causing tooth decay. Maybe your diet has nothing to do with the fact you have a cavity. So, what other causes are we referring to? Here they are:
- Poor Oral Hygiene – not brushing your teeth twice a day or for the recommended time (at least 2 minutes) allows for plaque to build-up which attacks your enamel.
- Dry Mouth – our saliva is a critical part of our mouth, it’s our first line of defense as it washes and breaks down plaque and foods.
- Bacteria – our mouth is home to bacteria, bacteria that resides on your tongue, gums, and teeth. When the bacteria we have begins to feed off the sugar and carbohydrate substances, it produces constant acids harming our teeth.
- Medical Problems – whether it’s the medication you take or a medical condition, medical problems can be a cause of our tooth decay. The intake of medication is another reason we have dry mouth due to a side effect of the meds.
How Are Cavities Treated?
Cavity treatment like all dental treatment is dependent on how early it is caught. The dentist will need to thoroughly examine your teeth to ensure there is no infection and to see the damage of the tooth. For the most part, cavities can be treated with a filling. If there is little decay on the tooth, the dentist will repair it by removing the decay part with a drill. Once the dentist has removed the rot, they will fill your tooth with a filling.
However, if your cavity is large, you might need a crown to replace part of the tooth. The deeper the tooth decay, the more dental treatment is necessary. Once your cavity has reached the pulp of the tooth, you need a root canal done, or if the tooth is severely damaged, the tooth might be extracted and replaced.
Again, it is all dependent on how early your tooth decay is caught. One way of detecting a cavity is visiting your dentist regularly. They can examine your teeth in depth and see any dental problems arising before the visible eye or you can.
What Are Some Prevention Tips?
Even though a cavity can be repaired, there are methods we can take to prevent cavities from forming in our tooth and taking care of our teeth. What kind of prevention methods can we make? We’ve divided it into two sections to know how.
- Oral Hygiene:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. (Brushing before bedtime is essential.)
- Brush with a soft bristle and in a light, circular motion to clean the entire tooth and gums.
- Floss once a day to clean between your teeth and gums where you can’t reach with your toothbrush.
- Mouthrinse, commonly known as mouthwash, can be used to control or reduce bad breath and bacteria found in the mouth that helps produce plaque.
- Visit your dentist annually for regular check-ups (i.e., professional cleanings and examination).
- Eat balanced meals that offer plenty of nutrients provided by fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Limit the amount of snacking.
- Limit the intake of sweets, carbohydrates, and sugary drinks.
Fun Facts About Tooth Decay:
- Cavities are more commonly found on children, although, with age, adults are having the same problem.
- The bacteria that cause tooth decay can be passed down to one person from the next through sharing utensils, food, pacifiers, or saliva.
- Common places where you can find a cavity is in the grooves of the back teeth where it’s difficult to clean and reach, also in between the teeth.
As Halloween approaches, we will soon be getting a bowl full of treats to snack on. Not that there’s anything wrong with having a sweet, you want to make sure you take care of your teeth as well. If you’re experiencing any toothaches or sensitivity in your tooth, don’t wait around to see if it will pass. Visit your dentist to have your teeth and mouth examined, fill out our appointment form to visit one of our providers.