You may know that a cavity is a dental problem you need to get fixed, but do you really understand what a cavity is? Learning the definition of a “cavity” and how they occur can help you take steps to prevent them, as well as to recognize early signs of one for prompt treatment. Here’s your guide to all things cavities.
How Do Cavities Form?
Everyone has natural bacteria (“bugs”, also called plaque) in their mouths. Plaque is the slimy substance in your mouth that coats your teeth and makes your mouth feel unclean. They eat sugar and create acid as a metabolic byproduct. Too much of this acid can dissolve the mineral structure that makes up tooth enamel, creating a hole or decay in the tooth. These holes – called cavities – cause a lot of pain and can lead to loss of the tooth. The breakdown of sugar is why dentists say that eating too much candy or other sugary foods can contribute to the formation of cavities.
How to Tell if You Have a Cavity
When a cavity forms, you may feel pain or aches in the tooth or jaw bone. This is because the decay can reach deep inside the tooth, where the nerve endings lie, and cause pain and sensitivity. But, the best time to treat a cavity is not when it starts hurting – the best time is BEFORE it starts hurting! Small cavities can be treated by simple fillings, which are easy and affordable. Large cavities that reach deep inside the tooth may require more extensive procedures. Our dentist will examine your teeth and may take x-rays to look deep inside for signs of decay. If cavities are treated early, that is the best way to prevent the dreaded toothache.
You can help prevent cavities by being aware of what you eat and improving your dental hygiene practices. The most dangerous foods and beverages are candy and sugary drinks. Most people know that soda is bad for your teeth, but did you also know that juice and sports drinks have a lot of sugar too. Sugary drinks are the worst for kids! In addition to improving what you eat, brushing twice a day is essential to avoiding cavities. If not, the cavity “bugs” build-up their “army” and start producing the acid that puts holes in your teeth. Talk to our dentist for more information. We want to help you avoid costly dental treatments and the dreaded toothache.