Cavities, or tooth decay, occur when bacterial acids living in your mouth begin to eat away at the teeth, usually causing sharp pain and risk of tooth loss. While cavities are most common among children, people of any age are vulnerable to them. They are often influenced by lifestyle choices, such as the foods and beverages one consumes, but they can sometimes be hereditary as well. If not treated, they can destroy the tooth and the nerve at the center, which often results in infection. These infections can only be cured by a root canal or by removing the tooth completely. The multiple types of cavities include:
This is the most common type of cavity for both children and adults, usually occurring on chewing surfaces or between teeth. They often arise in between teeth when flossing is neglected.
These cavities occur as age sets in and the gum line begins to recede, leading to root exposure. Since roots do not have an enamel coating, they are more susceptible to infection.
This kind of decay occurs in areas that have a tendency to build up plaque, such as fillings and crowns.
How do you know when a cavity starts to grow?
When you eat sugars and starches, the bacteria in plaque eats these carbohydrates, creating acids that rot the teeth. Since cavities are formed under the tooth’s surface, looking in the mirror and opening your mouth as wide as possible is rather ineffective. A dentist must be the one to detect if you have a cavity or not. They are most likely to occur in the pits of the chewing surface, in between teeth, and near the gum line where gums have worn down.
You will most likely feel a slight pain in the tooth where the cavity resides, and that’s the first sign to have your teeth examined for decay. Cavities should be taken seriously and given proper care as soon as possible in order to prevent permanent damage.
How do you prevent cavities?
While it’s terrific that our dentists can ensure cavities are properly taken care of, it’s obviously better to avoid cavities altogether. What are the steps necessary to ensure your teeth are safe from damage? Below are some of ways to prevent tooth decay before it occurs:
Brush and floss at least two times a day to remove plaque from between your teeth and at the gum line. This is the most common method of prevention and should be approached proactively. It is also wise to brush and floss immediately following meals.
See your dentist regularly in order to prevent minor tooth problems from becoming major ones. Your dentist can also tell you if your teeth are more susceptible to cavities, and what preventive measures you should personally take.
Limit the starch and sugar in your diet. Eating these foods with your meal rather than as snacks can lower the number of times your teeth are exposed to acids.
Talk to your dentist and see what further steps you can take to prevent cavities.