Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth that appear stained or tiny holes. Cavities, also called tooth decay or caries, are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks and not cleaning your teeth well.
Dental caries which is also referred to as tooth decay or cavities is one of the most common and widespread infectious microbial diseases today and is also one of the most preventable.
Many different types of bacteria up on the teeth in a sticky film called plaque. This plaque also contains saliva, bits of food and other natural substances. It forms most easily in certain places. These include:
- Cracks, pits or fissures in the back teeth
- Between teeth
- Around dental fillings or bridgework
- Near the gum line
A dentist will look for caries at each office visit. The dentist will look at the teeth and may probe them with a tool called an explorer to look for pits or areas of damage.
Dentist will take X-rays of your teeth on a set schedule, and also if a problem is suspected. They can show newly forming decay, particularly between teeth. They also show the more advanced decay, including whether decay has reached the pulp and whether the tooth requires a root canal.
Some dentists also use high-tech devices such as lasers to detect cavities. Under many conditions, these devices can detect very early tooth decay, which can actually be reversed.
Healthy untreated tooth and dental caries or cavities icon set. Severity of tooth destruction.
Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the leftover food particles that combine to create cavities. The earlier a dental professional can spot the signs of poor oral hygiene, such as a buildup of plaque, the better your chances at preventing dental caries and gum problems from ever occurring in the first place.
- Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water.
- Adult should brush and floss their teeth at least twice a day.
- Watch the number of snacks containing sugars and acids. Cavity causing bacteria feed on sugar, and acids soften and erode enamel over time.
- Dentist may also recommend protective sealants or home fluoride treatments for your child.
- Sealants can be applied to child’s molars to prevent decay on hard to clean surfaces.
- Fluoride Therapy makes teeth more resistant to decay. It can also reverse tooth decay that has already begun.
- Using xylitol as either a sugar substitute or a small dietary addition have demonstrated a dramatic reduction in new tooth decay, along with some reversal of existing dental caries.
- Avoid Sports Drinks with high sugar content and acids, they have erosive potential and the ability to dissolve even fluoride-rich enamel, which can lead to cavities.
- Preventative Orthodontics for uneven or misaligned teeth that are much more difficult to clean than straight, even teeth, and they are also more susceptible to damage.
- Visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups.
Tooth decay is by far the most common cause of tooth pain, and the pain can manifest itself in a variety of ways depending on the extent of decay. Some of the most common symptoms associated with tooth decay are mild sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks, sharp pain upon biting, and constant to severe pain or pressure in the jaw. Tooth decay can occur even if you’re brushing and flossing, which is why it’s important you see a dentist at least twice a year.
Dental Caries Treatments
The main goal is to keep as much tooth structure as well as preventing further complications. Incipient Caries that are superficial may require only fluoride treatments to help with remineralization.
If caries have led to cavities, the caries must be removed and the repaired professionally, there are four main ways to deal with dental caries. These treatments carried out by a dental professional can help treat damage incurred from dental caries.
Fillings: Fillings are the most common form of treatment for the disease. A dental professional drills into the affected area(s) of the teeth, removes the decayed material inside the prepared cavity, and packs this empty space with an appropriate dental filling material… Composite resin, the most common filling material in the developed world.
Crowns: Crowns are another option for dental professionals when treating dental caries, and are only used when a large proportion of the tooth is destroyed by disease. When tooth decay leads to the need for large fillings, the tooth becomes more prone to cracks and ultimately breaking. The dentist would attempt to salvage the remaining tooth, repair it, and finally fit the tooth with an alloy or porcelain crown covering.
Root Canal: As tooth decay progresses through the enamel and settles in the center of the tooth, it may even advance further and damage the nerves, which are in the root. A dental professional would remove the damaged or dead nerve with the surrounding blood vessel tissue (pulp) and fill the area. The procedure usually ends with the dentist placing a crown over the affected area.
Extraction: The final stage will be to remove the tooth if it is untreatable and beyond repair and must be extracted if there is risk of infection spreading to the jaw bone. The removal of some teeth may affect the alignment of those left in the mouth, so it is recommended that a partial denture, bridge, or implant be inserted in those edentulous areas.
Get your cavities treated as soon as they get diagnosed, as with time treatment only gets more extensive and expensive.
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