Cavities, otherwise known as tooth decay, are irreversibly damaged areas in the outer enamel layer of your teeth. Cavities are incredibly common and can develop in children, teenagers, and adults.
If a cavity is untreated, it will continue to worsen. This can lead to severe toothache, infections, and even tooth loss. Preventative dentistry is an important way to stop cavities from developing into a major problem.
The Causes and Symptoms of Cavities
Cavities occur when food adheres to the teeth. This food is partially digested by the bacteria in the mouth, turning them into acids. Eventually, the combination of food, acid, saliva, and bacteria forms a layer of plaque. Food rich in carbohydrates and sugars, as well as highly acidic foods, are more likely to cause plaque development than others.
This plaque is damaging to the enamel, eventually creating cavities or holes. Once the hard enamel layer has worn away, the plaque can access the more sensitive inner layer of the tooth, known as dentin. When the plaque attacks the dentin, it can reach the nerves and blood vessels within the teeth, causing inflammation and pain.
The most obvious symptom of cavities is toothache and tooth sensitivity, which occur when the tooth decay has reached the inner layers of the tooth. Staining on the surface of the tooth is also a sign of cavities, as is visible damage to the teeth.
By the time these symptoms have developed, the teeth have likely already suffered permanent damage. The best way to deal with cavities is to make sure that they don’t progress to this level.
How to Prevent Cavities
To prevent plaque development, it’s important to remove residual food from the surface of the tooth. Regular and thorough brushing of the teeth will dislodge plaque. It’s recommended to brush the teeth at least twice a day, and potentially after each meal. Cavities are more commonly found in the molars, so special attention should be afforded to these teeth when brushing. Dental floss and mouthwash will also help to stop cavities from forming.
A balanced diet can also help prevent tooth decay as certain foods have a higher likelihood of causing cavities. Frequent snacking and sugary drinks should be avoided, as these introduce more sugar and acid to the teeth throughout the day. Instead, it’s recommended to drink fluorine-treated tap water and to eat fresh fruits and vegetables regularly.
As the symptoms of cavities are only obvious when they have already developed, frequently visiting the local dentist is the best way to prevent them. The dentist will check the teeth for any damage that can lead to cavities, and clean the teeth more thoroughly to remove any plaque.
Dental Care of Jackson Hole your local dentist based in Jackson, Wyoming can perform these regular checks and cleanings. The dentist may also recommend a preventive program that is designed for each patient. If the patient is especially prone to cavities, the dentist might consider dental sealants or fluoride treatments to ensure that cavities don’t develop.