We answer the age old question, “What is a cavity?”
Cavities are one of the most frequent dental problems seen. With up to 9 out of 10 people getting a cavity in their lifetime, it’s important to understand what they are and how to prevent them. When the tooth has been damaged to the point of creating a hole, decay can begin to form. This decay can spread and do even more damage than the cavity alone. Keeping a cavity from forming is not difficult and we’ll discuss some tips below.
How Cavities are Created
Every person’s mouth contains various kinds of bacteria. While a lot of this bacteria is useful to us, there is some that is not. Plaque is a thick film that coats your teeth and is made up of this harmful bacteria. When your food and beverages have sugar in it, this bacteria eats that sugar and produces an acid that harms your teeth.
The two outer layers of your tooth, the hard enamel and the dentin just below it, are damaged by this acid. These two layers help protect the nerves and blood vessels inside your tooth, called the pulp. The acid can slowly form an opening that allows contaminants to get in. This can lead to tooth decay if the cavity is not properly filled in and sealed.
- A cavity that forms on the biting surface of the tooth is called a coronal cavity. Children are especially prone to this type because they cannot reach the area properly.
- A root cavity is one that forms near the root of the tooth where there is less enamel. Damage near this area, such as from receding gums, can increase the chances of cavities forming, especially in older adults.
- Flossing gets the bacteria in between the teeth. Cavities between the teeth can form if one does not floss properly or regularly.
- Fillings and crowns can cause recurrent cavities or tooth decay due to the crevices or location. Ensuring that you have cleaned the area thoroughly will decrease your chances of recurrent damage around your dental work.
Prevention and Care of Cavities
If a cavity has already begun, it is possible to reverse the damage if it is not extensive. Our saliva contains teeth strengthening minerals that, when combined with fluoride and other minerals, can help rebuild your enamel.
Preventing a cavity is much simpler than attempting to combat a cavity that has already begun. Maintaining good oral hygiene is vital. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing when you brush, will go a long way to removing the cavity causing bacteria. Your toothpaste and any mouthwash should contain fluoride, which helps combat bacteria and strengthen teeth.
Proper dietary habits are important as well. Avoid sugar when possible, including from fruit juices, as this is the main food source for the cavity causing bacteria. Reduce the number of snacks you have between meals. Doing this gives your mouth a chance to combat the bacteria and strengthen your teeth. Don’t consume any snacks after you’ve brushed your teeth in the evening.
Be sure to get regular check-ups with your dentist. You should go every six months. This will help catch cavities before they get out of hand. Sealants can also be used on children or on cavity prone teeth. This sealant is a thin application over the tooth’s surface that helps prevent cavities from forming.
With a healthy diet, proper oral hygiene, and regular visits to Advanced Dentistry South Florida, you’ll definitely have something to smile about.
If you have questions or concerns about cavities, call our dental professionals today at 561-495-2099 or visit our contact page for more information.