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Cavities 101: All You Need to Know

August 1, 2020
Cavities or caries are the tiny openings in the teeth’ enamel. Carries are common in children, teenagers, and seniors. But, they can affect almost anyone, including infants. Cavities take time to develop; however, if left untreated, they advance and get larger and end up changing the teeth' deep layers. Knowing what causes cavities will help you in preventing them.
Cavities 101: All You Need to Know

What Are the Causes of Cavities?

Tooth decay is the primary cause of cavities, and it develops with time. Dental caries affect both the enamel (outer surface) and the dentin (inner layer), and it is at this time when cavities start to develop.

Decay develops when plaques form on the tooth surface. A plaque is a sticky film that develops in the enamel when you eat sugary foods. We have a colony of bacteria in the mouth that breaks the sugary foods and produces an acid solution. When you fail to clean off your teeth after eating, plaques begin to build up and eventually develop into tartar (the primary cause of gum disease).

The acid solution attacks the enamel and erodes it of the essential minerals. This eventually causes tiny holes in the enamel. The more you expose the enamel to this acidic solution, the higher the chances of developing decay. When the first layer of the teeth is worn out, the bacteria will make way to the next layer—dentin. The dentin is less resistant to acid attacks and more prone to infection.

As the decay advances, it affects the pulp that houses nerves and blood vessels. This causes swelling, irritation, and pain that extends to the tooth root and bone.

Who Can Be Affected by Cavities?

Children and teenagers are mostly affected by dental cavities. However, both infants and adults can also be affected by decay. As you grow older, the gums begin to recede, exposing the roots at risk of decay.

What Are the Risk Factors of Dental Decay?

Several factors can increase your risk of developing dental decay, and they include:

  • Location of the teeth. Decay tends to affect the molars and premolars (back teeth) because they have pits and grooves that collect food particles. This makes it hard to clean the teeth and end up leaving some particles on the teeth.
  • Consuming sugary foods and drinks. When you continuously take sugary foods, you give the mouth bacteria food and a chance to produce the acid solution.
  • Eating certain foods that stick on the teeth, such as milk, ice cream, honey, and cookies.
  • Inadequate and inefficient brushing can leave a few particles behind, increasing the risk of decay.
  • Not getting enough fluoride can also increase the risk. Fluoride helps to prevent decay and even reverse mild dental cavities. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste will strengthen your enamel.
  • Bedtime bottle feeding. When babies take milk formula, juice, and sugar-containing liquids, these drinks remain for an extended period on their teeth.
  • Dry mouth. Saliva removes food particles and prevents decay. However, because of certain factors, saliva production may be affected, increasing your risk of cavities.
  • Worn our dental fillings. Over time, your dental restorations may begin to weaken and break down. This allows plaques to build more quickly as the bacteria sneak into the teeth underneath.

How Are Teeth Cavities Treated?

Cavity treatment includes:

  • Fluoride treatment
  • Root canals
  • Dental crowns and filings
  • Tooth extractions

How Can You Prevent Dental Decay?

Good oral hygiene prevents dental cavities. Other ways that our dentist can recommend using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, dental sealants, eat healthy foods and drink tap water occasionally as it contains fluoride.

We also recommend getting regular dental checkups and cleanings every six months. This makes it easy for the dentist to remove accumulated plaques and also detect dental cavities on time.

Schedule an Appointment

If you have tooth sensitivity, moderate to sharp pain when eating or drinking, it is time to see the dentist as you may have cavities. Visit Complete Health Dentistry clinic, and our Park Ridge Dentist will recommend the ideal treatment.

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