What causes cavities?
Cavities form when teeth are exposed to sugary foods on a regular basis. Sugars and carbohydrates (like the ones found in white bread) collect on and around the teeth after eating. A sticky film (plaque) then forms on the tooth enamel. The oral bacteria within the plaque continually ingest sugar particles and emit acid. Initially, the acid attacks the tooth enamel, weakening it and leaving it vulnerable to tooth decay. If conditions are allowed to worsen, the acid begins to penetrate the tooth enamel and erodes the inner workings of the tooth.
To help maintain good dental health, it is important that both adults and children brush twice a day, floss regularly, and visit the dentist for exams and cleanings at least twice a year.
How will I know if I have a cavity?
Large cavities can be excruciatingly painful, whereas tiny cavities may not be felt at all. Making matters even trickier, cavities sometimes form between the teeth, making them invisible to the naked eye. Dental X-rays and the dentist’s trained eyes help pinpoint even the tiniest of cavities so they can be treated before they worsen.
Some of the major symptoms of cavities include:
Heightened sensitivity to cool or warm foods
Nighttime waking due to pain
Spontaneous pain or pain to biting
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact the dental office immediately. Failure to do so will make the problem worse, and possibly jeopardize a tooth that could have been treated.
How can I prevent cavities at home?
Biannual visits with the dentist are only part of the battle against cavities. Here are some helpful guidelines for cavity prevention:
Analyze the diet – Too many sugary or starchy snacks can expedite cavity formation. Replace sugary snacks like candy with natural foods where possible, and similarly, replace soda with water. Remember that carbonated beverages and energy drinks can damage the enamel of your teeth.
Cut the snacks – Snacking too frequently can unnecessarily expose teeth to sugars.
Avoid stickiness – Sticky foods (like toffee) form plaque quickly and are extremely difficult to pry off the teeth. Avoid them when possible.
Brush and floss – Parents should brush and floss their child’s teeth twice each day until the child reaches the age of seven years old. Before this time, children struggle to brush every area of the mouth effectively. For adults especially, consider using an electric toothbrush to help reduce plaque and increase oral health.
Check on fluoride –When used correctly, fluoride can strengthen tooth enamel and help stave off cavities. Too much or too little fluoride can actually harm the teeth.
Keep to appointments – Keep to a regular appointment schedule to create healthy smiles!
If you have questions or concerns about cavity prevention, please contact our office.