Most people have had a cavity or two in their life. What most people don’t know is what causes a cavity, how it can be treated and how you know when you have a cavity. The following guide to cavities will help patients understand what a cavity is, the cause of cavities, and what to do if you have cavities.


Dental Cavities

The easiest way to define a cavity is tooth decay. The cavity or tooth decay occurs when bacteria is created and the acidity destroys the protective enamel layer around the tooth. Bacteria enter a person’s mouth whenever they eat and/or drink. The bacteria begin to create acids; these acids strip your teeth enamel of essential minerals. The bacteria will build upon a tooth, it is called dental plaque. The layer underneath the enamel–called dentin–is also damaged by the dental plaque (bacteria). When the bacteria break down enough dentin the tooth’s nerve becomes exposed, creating a cavity.

A cavity can form from nearly any type of food/drink but certain foods are more prone to damaging your teeth than others, things with high acidity or sugar are more damaging and have a greater chance of leading to a cavity. If you want to avoid cavities a person should avoid hard candies, sticky candies and anything that sticks to your teeth.


Cavity Warning Signs

You can often feel a cavity as it exposes the nerve of a tooth. If you have any pain or sensitivity in your mouth when you eat or drink, chances are you have a cavity. If you schedule an appointment with your dentist they will inspect for cavities and the warning signs as they will notice visible tooth decay on the surface of your teeth. When you schedule a teeth cleaning the dental hygienist or dentist will often test for cavities by applying pressure with a pick. A cavity on a tooth is often “sticky” to the touch.


How To Prevent Cavities

Some people are more prone to cavities than others. A person can prevent cavities with proper dental hygiene steps and tips. If you want to prevent cavities, brush and floss your teeth twice daily, as this removes built-up plaque and bacteria. A patient looking to avoid/prevent cavities should also avoid eating anything that has too much sugar or starch, as these produce more acid than other types of foods. Using an anti-bacterial mouth rinse can help to reduce the number of bacteria inside your mouth, further preventing a cavity from forming.


Treatment of Cavities

A dentist will likely want to treat a cavity as soon as it is noticed. A cavity is often treated with a sealant or filling depending on the severity. If the dentist notices the decay before it penetrates the enamel layer, the dentist will most likely apply a sealant to the tooth to protect it from further damage. If the cavity has damaged the enamel, then the tooth will likely need a filling.

Cavities can cause discomfort and lead to poor dental health. Practicing good dental hygiene and brushing/flossing regularly can help to prevent cavities. If you are wanting to avoid cavities you should also avoid sugary foods or drinks with high acidity.

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