When you have tooth damage due to bacteria, these areas are known as cavities. Since cavities can end up causing serious problems, you should focus on preventing them from developing in the first place. Learn more about what causes cavities, how to know if you might have them and how to stop them from occurring.
Causes of Cavities
Cavities develop when you have tooth decay, which can take a long time to happen. At first, dental plaque forms on your teeth, especially if you eat a lot of foods with starch or sugar. Plaque can turn into tartar if you don’t effectively remove it with brushing and dental cleanings. Plaque contains acid that eats away at the enamel that protects your teeth, resulting in holes. Bacteria passes through these openings to the deeper layers of your teeth, where it can end up causing extreme pain and other problems.
Symptoms of Cavities
In the early stages of cavities, you’re unlikely to notice any signs of symptoms. As cavities get worse, you might develop any of the following symptoms:
- Increased sensitivity to hot or cold sensations, such as when drinking a hot beverage
- Noticeable holes in your teeth
- Black discoloration
- Discomfort when biting down
Risk Factors for Cavities
Your risk of developing cavities can increase when you have one or more risk factors. These factors include a diet filled with sugary or starchy foods, snacking or shipping often throughout the day, not brushing enough on a regular basis and having a dry mouth. Other risk factors include having worn fillings, having heartburn and not having enough fluoride.
Problems with Cavities
When left untreated, cavities can cause certain problems that are serious. In some cases, cavities cause severe and sudden pain that affects your daily life. Cavities can also lead to the development of an abscess or infection that could spread to other parts of your body, which can be life-threatening. These tooth problems can also cause difficulty eating or chewing, tooth loss and broken teeth.
The kind of treatment cavities need depends on how severe they are. Mild ones might only need fluoride treatment, while more severe ones might need fillings or crowns. Serious cavities might require tooth extractions or root canal to lower the risk of infections and other complications.
There are many steps you can take to avoid getting cavities. These include the following:
- Brushing at least twice each day, especially after eating. Brushing with a toothpaste that contains fluoride can help lower your risk of cavities even more.
- Using a mouth rinse that contains fluoride to help protect your teeth from cavities.
- Having routine dental cleanings and exams twice a year to ensure that plaque and tartar are removed and to find early signs of cavities.
- Limiting or avoiding foods that are high in starch or sugar. Include more foods that are good for your teeth in your diet, such as fresh fruits, vegetables and cheese. Chewing sugar-free gum can help get rid of sugary or starchy food particles by stimulating saliva flow.
- Eating a few times a day rather than snacking often throughout the day, which puts your teeth at a greater risk of cavities.
- Drinking tap water, since many areas have public water supplies that contain fluoride, which helps strengthen your tooth enamel.
- Getting fluoride treatments during your dental cleanings.
If you’re due for a dental cleaning and exam, please contact Central Avenue Dental to set up an appointment. Our dentist can check your teeth for cavities and treat them promptly.