Cavities: Prevention, Treatment, & You
What is a cavity?
A cavity is a small hole in the outer layer of your tooth, known as the enamel. They are the result of tooth decay. Over time, tooth decay can cause damage to both the enamel and the inner layer of a tooth. When food remains in your teeth, it creates plaque. Plaque is a soft, sticky substance containing bacteria that promotes cavities. If bacteria deposits from plaque aren’t removed by brushing and flossing, they can create cavities, gum disease, and buildup. Foods with carbohydrates like bread, cereal, soda, sweets, or candy remain on your teeth. When you consume these foods, the plaque-causing bacteria turns the sugar into acid. The acid breaks down your tooth enamel over time and the plaque holds the acid in place on your teeth.
Cavity Signs and Symptoms
1. Sensitive Teeth
Have you ever taken a bite of a hot, cold, or sugary food and felt an immediate pain? This could be the result of a cavity. This can feel like a mild pain in a specific tooth or group of teeth. If brushing with special toothpaste for sensitive teeth doesn’t work, you may have a cavity.
2. Bad Breath
Cavities are caused by bacteria and may cause bad breath. Bad breath typically only occurs once the cavity has remained untreated for a long time and the tooth is starting to decay. The bacteria inside your mouth feed on food particles. Brushing and flossing help get rid of the bacteria. If you have bad breath due to an untreated cavity, it will not go away with brushing and flossing. You will need to see a dentist and get your cavity treated.
3. Dark Spots and Holes
In some cases, a dark spot may just be a natural stain. If the spot feels sticky, a cavity may be developing. If you experience a slight pain when you’re eating, check for holes in your teeth. A hole in your tooth is a common sign that bacteria in your mouth has created a cavity. If dark spots or holes are visible on your teeth, this is a sign of an untreated cavity. We recommend calling your dentist to set up an appointment.
4. Cracked Tooth
Cracked teeth can be a result of an accident or chewing on extremely hard foods. They can also be caused by bacteria buildup weakening your tooth enamel. This causes your teeth to be more susceptible to crack when you’re chewing crunchy or sticky foods. If you crack a tooth, schedule a dentist appointment and try to avoid chewing on that side of your mouth in the meantime.
Toothaches are most common when you bite into food with an already damaged food. This means the cavity has reached a nerve in your tooth that is causing the pain. The tooth may also be infected. If you are struggling with extreme toothaches, contact your dentist as soon as possible.
How can I prevent a cavity?
The most effective way to prevent cavities is to maintain good oral health by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Here are a few additional tips on how to maintain good oral health and prevent cavities:
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks. These foods stick to your teeth and attract bacteria.
- Brush your teeth after you eat or drink anything that isn’t water. We recommend carrying a portable toothbrush with you.
- Use mouthwash to rinse additional food residue.
- Drinks lots of water. Water will rinse extra food and residue off your teeth.
How are cavities treated?
Treatment depends on the severity of the cavity. In common cases, the dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth using a drill. The dentist then fills in the hole with a filling material.
Crowns are used when a tooth is decayed so badly that not much of the tooth remains. Your dentist will remove and repair the damaged portion of the tooth. A crown will be made from gold, porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal. The crown will cover the remainder of your tooth.
In the most severe situations, a root canal will be necessary. You may need a root canal is the root or pulp of your tooth is dead or not able to be repaired. The dentist will remove your nerve, blood vessels, and tissue as well as the decayed portions of the tooth. The dentist then fills the roots with a sealing material. In some cases, a crown is also needed over the tooth.
To maintain good oral health and avoid cavities, it is important to visit your dentist regularly. If you think you are suffering from a cavity, contact Shades Creek Dental today.