Dental Cavities: What You Should Know

When it comes to cavities, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news: If you have teeth, you can get cavities. The good news: Most cavities can be avoided with preventive dental care, or they can be easily treated by your dentist.

Cavities are tooth decay that can occur when you are a child or adult. When sugars and starches remain in the mouth, they feed bacteria that are found in plaque. Left unchecked, the plaque can attack the enamel of the tooth. Over time, the erosion of the enamel can cause a cavity to form. It can be on the tooth’s surface or below the surface—or, it can also form between teeth or along the gum line. A cavity can cause sensitivity or pain, as it advances in severity.

Types of Cavities

Tooth decay can happen anywhere in the mouth, but cavities most commonly form on back teeth. This is because your molars have deep grooves in them, and also because they are hard to reach with your toothbrush and floss.

Cavities on the primary chewing surfaces and between your teeth are called coronal cavities. Root cavities can also form as we get older when our gums recede. Roots do not have enamel, so they are more prone to decay. Finally, recurrent decay can occur around existing fillings or crowns, where plaque can accumulate more easily. Cavities should be treated as soon as your dentist detects them to avoid further decay. They can also progress into a tooth abscess or other more serious problems. 

Preventing Tooth Decay

Studies have shown that you can prevent tooth decay by taking good care of your teeth and your health. Those cares include:

  • Brushing teeth
  • Flossing between teeth
  • Using fluoride-based toothpaste & mouthwash
  • Eating a healthy diet with few sugary and starchy snacks
  • Drinking fluoridated water
  • Getting a fluoride treatment from your dentist

Brushing your teeth does two things: it removes plaque that can damage your tooth enamel, plus, it exposes your teeth to enamel-strengthening fluoride. Even the brief two minutes you spend brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day helps strengthen and protect your teeth. Flossing cleans out the plaque and food debris that might remain between your teeth. In addition, flossing is good for your gum tissue.

Foods to Avoid

Avoiding sugary, sticky foods and baked goods also help your teeth stay healthy and resilient. Fresh, crunchy raw vegetables and fruits contain a lot of fiber, which helps clean your teeth and gums. Pick up an apple or carrot stick when you want something sweet. These tasty natural treats also help stimulate saliva, which is another natural barrier against plaque-forming bacteria and acids. Cheese and other dairy products also help with saliva production, and most contain calcium, a nutrient that exists in your teeth and bones. 

The worst things for your teeth include sweets like lollipops, taffy, and caramel. Sweet, soft bread and potato chips can also stick to teeth. When foods linger in your mouth, bacteria can thrive. To give your teeth a fighting chance, eliminate all carbonated, sweetened soft drinks in your diet and in that of your kids’ diets. Not only does the added sugar and acid attack teeth, but carbohydrates also have numerous negative impacts on health. It can cause weight gain and blood sugar spikes that cause immense stress on your body.

Simply drinking more tap water can help your teeth and overall health. Keeping your mouth and body hydrated helps with saliva production. Follow acidic foods like citrus with a cleansing glass of water. Cedar Rapids’ water supply and other local towns offer fluoridated drinking water that tastes great and provides your teeth with an added touch of fluoride. If you live on a farm with well water, consider adding fluoridated mouthwash to your oral health routine to boost the strength of your enamel.

Treatment for Cavities

If cavities are overlooked or left untreated, they can cause the tooth to die, decay, and possibly break or become infected. The decayed area of the tooth is drilled out and then filled with a product that restores the tooth surface. Local anesthesia ensures that the filling process is painless. 

When you provide the best possible care for your teeth and see your dentist regularly, you can avoid large cavities. Make an appointment for a tooth cleaning and fluoride treatment by the dentists at Westdale Dental. The earlier you address your dental health, the more likely you will be to avoid a filling. Check out these 5 reasons you should consider seeing a dentist, and contact us today.