Dental cavities are a common issue, which often go unnoticed until they begin to cause real damage to the tooth.
A cavity is a hole in the tooth caused by decay. In advanced stages, cavities can cause pain, sensitivity, or infection.
I’m worried about cavities. Are there any signs?
Cavities Often Exist without Symptoms,
UNTIL THEY BECOME SERIOUS
Am I at a high risk for cavities?
Your Diet and Brushing Habits
CAN INCREASE YOUR RISK FOR CAVITIES
Everyone is at risk for developing cavities. However, there are certain factors that can increase the chance of tooth decay, including:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Dry mouth
- Frequent snacking throughout the day
- A lack of fluoride
- Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Eating disorders
Cavities are also common in young children and teenagers because their teeth are still developing. Older adults are also at a higher risk, as normal wear and tear makes teeth more vulnerable to decay. cavities?
So what actually causes cavities?
Bacteria Eats Away at Teeth
AND CAUSES CAVITIES
There are millions of bacteria in your mouth which thrive on sugary foods and drinks. When teeth are left unbrushed, bacteria can feed on leftover sugar, producing acid. The acid and bacteria then combine to form plaque.
Acid Erodes the Enamel
Plaque sticks to teeth and the acids within begin to wear away at the outer surface of teeth, called enamel. Over time, small openings begin to appear in the enamel, and these openings are the first stage of a cavity.
The longer plaque and bacteria are left on teeth, the larger the cavity can become. Decay can reach the deeper layers of the tooth, causing irritation, sensitivity, and pain. Extensive decay can eventually cause tooth loss.
How can I avoid getting a cavity?
Properly Caring for Your Teeth
CAN PREVENT CAVITIES
So how do I know if I have a cavity?
Regular Dental Exams
CAN REVEAL EVEN SMALL CAVITIES
Your dentist can usually detect areas of decay during a routine exam. They will examine your teeth and probe the surfaces with a dental instrument to look for soft spots. An x-ray can reveal cavities below the surface.
Attending regular, biannual dental exams can help your dentist identify signs of tooth decay early. Small cavities are easier to treat. When you leave a cavity untreated, it can continue to grow and cause more extensive damage to your smile.
So I have a cavity. Now what?
The Size of Your Cavity
WILL DETERMINE TREATMENT
Are there other ways to protect my smile?
Schedule an Appointment
While brushing and flossing at home can reduce your risk for cavities, visiting the dentist regularly is the best way to protect your smile. Schedule an appointment with your dentist for an exam and professional cleaning to keep your smile healthy.