Cavities are damaged areas in the teeth that develop into tiny holes or openings. The damage, also known as tooth decay, is the result of bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria accumulate in the mouth due to frequent consumption of snacks and sugary drinks.
Failure to clean the teeth properly also results in cavities. Tooth decay and cavities are some of the most common dental health problems in the world. It is important to understand their causes and what you need to do to treat them.
Tooth cavities occur due to plaque on the tooth. Plaque is the sticky matter that forms on the teeth. It is a combination of saliva, bacteria, acid, and food particles. Bacteria form naturally in the mouth. After eating foods or drinking liquids that have sugar, the bacteria turn the sugar into acid.
Plaque formation begins soon after drinking or eating anything with sugar. It sticks to the teeth and the acid begins to gradually erode the tooth enamel. The enamel is the hard-protective cover on the teeth that helps protect against decay.
Several symptoms can indicate the presence of a cavity, and they differ depending on the severity of tooth decay. A toothache, tooth sensitivity, and a visible hole are good signs that you may have a cavity.
Having a white or black stain on the tooth can also be a sign of a cavity. Cavities usually develop in the back teeth. These teeth have openings and grooves that can easily trap particles of food. These teeth are also more difficult to clean.
Every individual has a risk of developing cavities, but there are those who have a higher risk than others. Those who constantly consume too many acidic or sugary foods and drinks have a high risk of developing cavities.
Poor oral hygiene habits, including failing to brush and floss properly and frequently, raise the risk factor. Other risk factors are inadequate fluoride, dry mouth, eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia, and acid reflux.
If you experience symptoms like pain or sensitivity, visit a dentist immediately. If not treated early, cavities become worse as they increase in size. The dentist will carry out an oral exam to determine if you have cavities.
A dental X-ray can help determine if you have cavities. The dentist will recommend appropriate treatment depending on the severity of your condition. Treatment options include tooth fillings, dental crowns, and root canal. If the dentist discovers a cavity in the early stages, they can recommend a fluoride treatment.
Tooth decay and cavities can cause extreme discomfort or pain. There are things that you can do as you wait for your dental appointment. Over-the-counter medication can help reduce the pain. It is important to keep up your dental routine and continue brushing the teeth even with the discomfort. Be careful about what you eat and avoid extremely cold or hot foods and drinks.
Dental cavities do not usually exhibit symptoms in the early stages. A regular dental checkup is the best way to ensure that you avoid the development of cavities. It is also vital to maintain a good oral hygiene regimen. Brush and floss regularly, especially after consuming sugary foods.
For more on the causes and treatment of cavities, contact Tulane Family Dentistry at our office in New Orleans, Louisiana. You can call (504) 226-5740 today to schedule an appointment.