Cavities are one of the most common diseases in the world. It comes in second to the common cold. This infectious disease can damage the overall structure of the teeth. The most noticeable result of cavities are holes or hollow spaces in the teeth. Find out the truth about cavities and simple ways to help prevent them.
How Do Cavities Happen?
Nobody wants a hole in a tooth or a hollowed out tooth, but it happens. In fact, up to 90 percent of people over forty experience some level of tooth decay. Dental plaque is the sticky film that forms on the teeth when people fail to maintain optimum oral hygiene. Bacteria attaches to this film.
When a person eats carbohydrates or sugars, the bacteria break them down to use for their own sustenance. This produces an acid that drops the saliva pH. This causes the minerals in the enamel on the teeth start to dissolve. A white spot may form. Ongoing acid on the teeth can lead to decay and cavities may start to form.
Treating Cavities Right Away
A cavity can be small but grow quickly if it is ignored. This can wind up causing a painful toothache that requires emergency care and treatment. Ongoing neglect can lead to a tooth breaking or tooth loss. Sometimes a cavity can lead to infections that can necessitate the administration of antibiotics. The dentist may also need to perform a root canal.
Cavities can also make it difficult to eat or speak. Because they are a bacterial infection, they may also impact a person’s overall well-being. Plus, cavities can become noticeable and have a negative impact on a person’s self-esteem. This can make someone feel reluctant to open their mouth to speak and smile.
How a Dentist Takes Care of Cavities
If a dentist detects a cavity during a visual examination, an x-ray is done to verify the extent of the decay. Often the dentist will drill and fill the cavity to eliminate the decay and strengthen the structure of the tooth. A local anesthetic is typically used to numb the area before the drilling and filling are done. In the past, metals were used to fill cavities and sometimes they were noticeable.
Now patients also have the option of getting tooth-colored fillings that blend in with the rest of their teeth. Filling a cavity is a quick process that can reduce the risks of developing further infections and losing the tooth. Tooth decay can occur in children as young as two years of age.
Causes for Cavities and How to Prevent Them
The risk of cavities varies based on many factors, including the pH balance in each person’s mouth. Each person has a unique balance and a different risk of getting cavities. There are simple ways to be proactive about oral health. Children should start getting dental exams by the age of one. People should get a routine dental exam and cleaning at least once a year. It is important to brush at least twice daily for three minutes or longer.
Using a toothpaste and oral rinse with fluoride can help combat tooth decay. Flossing daily gets rid of debris between teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach. It also helps to avoid sugary foods and eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of nutrients to build stronger teeth. A dentist can also apply a protective shield on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to reduce the risk of cavities.
Many people develop cavities, but the risks can be minimized. Regular dental care, brushing and flossing daily, and healthy habits promote the best possible oral health and hygiene.