Even though you might have a good oral health and regular dental visits, cavities can still happen.
What is a cavity?
Cavities are damaged areas in your enamel which happen as a result of plaque, which is a sticky film on your teeth caused by bacteria and feeds on food and drinks you take. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth properly enough to remove plaque, it can create holes in your teeth.
How does it develop?
When a tooth is exposed frequently to acid, especially foods containing sugar, the repeated cycle of acid attacks ends up making holes in a tooth’s enamel. This is an early sign of tooth decay. At this point, it is still possible to prevent a cavity using remedies.
If tooth decay continues, the dentin will start to decay and a cavity starts to form. A cavity is permanent and has to be repaired with a filling.
Signs to look out for:
- Tooth sensitivity: One of the first things you might experience when a cavity is developing, is sensitivity. It is the uncomfortable tingling in your teeth whenever you eat something cold or hot, acidic or sugary.
- Bad Breath: If you have a cavity, the bad breath will be persistent and will not go away even with regular cleaning and flossing.
- Cracked Tooth: Cracked tooth can also be caused by cavities because the bacteria weaken the enamel in the process. If you do crack a tooth, go to your dentist immediately.
- Surface Stains: As enamel is further weakened, you might see a gray, brown or black spot. That spot means that bacteria are getting into your enamel slowly. If not treated, actual holes will develop.
- Visible Holes: This is a very strong sign of a cavity. Sometimes they develop on the chewing surface of the tooth. These are easy to see, and treat. However, cavities are often on the sides that are up against other teeth, and are harder to see without proper tools.
- Toothache: At first, the pain is noticeable when biting something hard. Over time, you will feel pain even when you bite something soft. If left untreated, you will have a constant toothache.
- Nothing At All: In early stages, there are few or no symptoms. This is the best time to treat the cavity, before it gets worse.
What does a dentist do, once a cavity is found?
It depends on how bad it is. Usually, your dentist will examine your teeth thoroughly, and may take x-rays. If a cavity is discovered, it is first repaired by removing the rotted part of your tooth with a drill. After this, the hole in your tooth is filled with a special material, either silver alloy, gold, composite resin or porcelain. This is called a filling.
If the tooth is so badly decayed that not much remains, crowns are used. Your dentist will remove and repair the damaged part of your tooth and then he will fit a crown made from gold, porcelain over the rest of the tooth.
A root canal might be needed if the root of your tooth is injured in a way that is irreparable. The dentist will remove the nerve, blood vessels and tissue of the tooth. Then, he will fill the root with a sealing material
Factors leading to cavities
- Location of tooth: Dental decay often occurs in your back teeth. They are harder to keep clean, thus more prone to bacterial attacks.
- Sugary or acidic food and drinks: Foods that cling to your teeth for a long time are more likely to cause decay e.g sugar, soda, cake, cookies, candies, chips
- Frequent snacking: When you frequently snack or drink sugary drinks, you end up giving more food to the bacteria.
- Inadequate brushing: If you do not brush your teeth often, and properly, plaque forms and tooth decay begins.
- Not getting enough fluoride: Fluoride helps prevent cavities and can even reverse early stages of tooth decay.
- Worn fillings: Over the years, dental fillings can become weak. This allows plaque build up easily.
How can we avoid a cavity?
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and preferably after every meal. Carry a portable toothbrush around so you don’t forget to brush after you eat.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste
- Brush properly
- Floss once a day to remove food stuck between your teeth
- Limit sugary food and drinks and avoid them if you can. These stick to your teeth for a longer period of time and attract more bacteria.
- Use a mouthwash to rinse off extra food residue. Some mouthwashes also have antiseptic ingredients to help kill bacteria.
- Drink a lot of water since it helps wash out extra food residue and doesn’t promote cavity.
- Eat a healthy diet like leafy greens, fresh fruit and dairy products.
- Visit a dentist at least twice an year
To find out more about dental issues and treatment plans, visit My Smiles Center in Joliet and Des Plaines, IL. We have affordable dental plans and treatments, and offer a variety of orthodontic treatments for all ages with the best results possible. Keep your smile constant and wide! To book an appointment, call us or just book an appointment online.