What You Should Know About Cavities

Cavities are one of the most common health problems in the world. Anyone who has teeth are susceptible to cavities, but they are especially prevalent in children, including teenagers and older people.

Cavities may seem like a scary thing, but they needn’t be with a little understanding.

What are cavities?

A cavity, also known as dental caries, is a tiny hole that has formed in the tooth. This is permanent damage to the hard enamel surface that has been weakened and is the start of tooth decay. Nerves in the tooth can become exposed, which causes sensitivity and pain.

Cavities can happen on any tooth surface but tend to happen more on the molars where there are a lot of grooves where plaque can form and stay if not brushed properly.

What causes cavities?

The bacteria in saliva turns to sugar, and starches into acids. These acids, along with bacteria and food particles, form plaque that sticks to just above the gum line usually within 20 minutes of eating. This plaque is what we would normally brush away, but if left it will turn into tartar.

Plaque and tartar will damage the enamel of the tooth and cause tiny holes in the surface, which would be the cavities.

Symptoms of cavities

Many cavities do not have any symptoms at all in the beginning stages, which is why you should go for bi-annual dental exams where a dentist can check for them before they become an issue. If left untreated, a cavity can get larger and cause tooth sensitivity and pain due to the exposed nerves. This pain can be when biting down, eating or drinking something or just come out of nowhere.

Visible symptoms include holes in the tooth, but this may not be easily detectable on your own. If you experience any of these symptoms, arrange to see a dentist as soon as possible to stop further tooth decay.

Treatments available

Cavities are very simple to treat if caught early and can be done in one visit to the dentist. The area the affected tooth is in will be numbed as the dentist will be working with exposed nerves. They will then drill around the hole to rid of any decay. An adhesive is used for the filling out of porcelain, silver, gold or amalgam, which is then applied and packed in with a pick to get into any cracks and bubbles. The filling is hardened with a light, and any edges are polished off.

Finally, the dentist will have you bite down to ensure the security of the filling and that you’re not left feeling uncomfortable. The whole process takes around 20 minutes.

Many put off the dentist out of the fear of pain, but not seeing one can have seeing repercussions. The sound of the drill and scraping may seem scary, but you won’t feel pain from it. If left untreated, tooth decay will continue to rot the tooth. This can come with excruciating pain and the need to remove the tooth.

How to prevent cavities

Practicing good oral hygiene will help prevent cavities. Brush with a good fluoride toothpaste after meals, so plaque doesn’t get the chance to build up. Clean between the teeth with floss, and consider using a fluoride mouthwash. Avoid snacking on sugary foods and drinks and instead, stick to healthy foods like fruit and vegetables that actually help increase saliva.

Visiting your dentist regularly for a deep cleaning and check-up will also prevent dental complications.

If you suspect you or your child has a cavity or want to take steps in preventing them, then call JC Dental for advice as soon as possible.

Our dentists are able to help find and treat cavities to prevent any further issues. We’re also here to give advice on prevention and offer regular cleanings and check-ups.

Visit us at our Southport office or contact us to speak with a friendly member of staff to arrange your appointment.

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