Tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates become trapped between teeth and are not completely removed with brushing and flossing. The plaque bacteria generate acidic by-products that eat away at the tooth enamel, slowly creating holes in the teeth called cavities. Without treatment, these holes can grow larger over time and may even destroy the whole tooth.
What Is a Cavity?
It’s actually pretty simple. Decay (or softening of enamel) happens over time and the result is a cavity. But once the enamel is weakened by acids produced by bacteria, a pit or cavity is formed in or on the tooth surface.
Major causes of tooth decay are sugary, sticky foods and beverages. Sugar combines with plaque to weaken the enamel leaving you vulnerable to tooth decay. Each time you eat a sugary snack, your teeth are vulnerable to damage from the acids for the next 20 minutes. It is important to understand the causes of tooth decay so you can learn the proper way to care for your teeth and care for your health.
Common Causes of Tooth Decay and Cavities
- Specific foods and drinks. Foods that cling to your teeth are the most likely to promote tooth decay. All sugars and most cooked starchy foods are major plaque promoters, including milk, honey, raisins, hard candy, dry cereal and bread.
- Frequent snacking. Some diets suggest eating several small meals each day to help lose weight or maintain weight loss. But remember that if you snack frequently, no matter what type of food, the acid in the food has more time to damage your teeth. Here’s another tip: Brushing your teeth after eating not only removes plaque, it can also help you stick to your diet by making your mouth feel cleaner so you’ll be less likely to snack.
- Receding gums. If your gums are receding, plaque can form near the roots of the teeth, which are not protected by tooth enamel and are more vulnerable to decay.
Prevention of Tooth Decay and Cavities
The use of products containing fluoride can help to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Fluoride flows into weak spots to help rebuild these areas before they can become cavities.
The most immediate form of treatment is to see your dental professional to have the cavity filled.
Rough or weak fillings may make plaque removal more difficult because plaque can build up in those areas.
Are Fillings are Required
If you develop tooth decay that has progressed beyond the process of eroding your tooth enamel and has created holes in your teeth, your dentist will likely recommend a filling. When you get a filling, your dentist will remove the decayed material from the tooth and replace it with something else to restore the shape of the tooth.
When Crowns are Needed
If your tooth decay is severe, your dentist will likely use a crown rather than a filling to repair the damage. A crown is larger than a filling and covers the top of the tooth once the decayed area is removed. Crowns are usually made from porcelain, gold or a combination of porcelain and metal.
No matter what type of filling or crown you have, be sure to follow a complete oral care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing to remove plaque and prevent future tooth decay.
- Eat Healthy: Follow a healthy diet and avoid sugary foods and drinks that feed the bacteria in your mouth.
- Fluoride Toothpaste: Brush regularly with a fluoridated toothpaste.
- Daily Flossing: Do this to help remove plaque and food particles from the spaces between your teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach.
- Regular Checkups: Schedule regular visits with your dentist, approximately every six months, for a routine cleaning and exam.
- Change Your Toothbrush: Remember to change your toothbrush when it looks worn, or every three months, because the newer the bristles, the more plaque the brush is able to remove.
- Sealants: The deep grooves and pits in some teeth, such as molars, can also be trouble spots for decay. One way to prevent this type of decay is to have sealant that hardens.
- Fluoride Supplements: Fluorides also play a significant role in preventing decay. Fluoride supplements are also available and can help keep your mouth clean and healthy.
Aren’t Cavities Just an Issue for Kids?
Kids are likely to miss chewing surfaces while brushing. But adults get cavities as well, primarily on the tooth surfaces between your teeth. If teeth are spaced tightly, it’s hard to clean between them to remove plaque. People who experience gum recession may also develop cavities on exposed root surfaces.
When can i visit dentist to get checkup for Cavities ?
You should plan on seeing your dentist twice a year for checkups. While checkups can vary, your dentist will most likely examine your teeth and gums for any visible problems, including the