Cavities: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments

Contrary to popular belief, children with bad eating habits are not the only ones susceptible to cavities. Any person at any age can get a cavity if they don’t practice good oral hygiene.

What Is A Cavity?

Cavities occur as a result of tooth decay, which affects your teeth from the outside by damaging enamel and from the inside by damaging dentin. Tooth decay is usually caused by sugary and starchy foods. The bacteria in your mouth digests these foods, turning them into acids. These bacteria and acids combine to form plaque which sticks to your teeth. If plaque is not cleaned, it eats away at the enamel on your teeth creating holes, called cavities.

Who Gets Cavities?

Cavities can occur at any age. While they are common among children, the changes that occur with aging make cavities just as common among adults. Gum disease, which is common among older adults, can expose tooth roots to plaque, making them more susceptible to cavities.

Tooth decay can also occur around the filings in older adults. Many adults did not receive the same modern dental care that children do today, so they tend to have a greater number of teeth fillings. These fillings may have weakened over the years, allowing bacteria to accumulate in small crevices causing tooth decay.

Your dentist can detect cavities during a regular dental checkup. To do this, they probe the surfaces of your teeth to check for soft surfaces. They can also x-ray your teeth to find cavities that aren’t visible to the eye.

In the advanced stages of tooth decay, you may notice a toothache or extra sensitivity when you eat cold or warm foods. Other signs of tooth decay are visible pits or holes in your teeth.

How Do You Treat A Cavity?

The extent of your tooth decay will most likely determine your treatment options. If the decay is minimal, your dentist can replace that part of your tooth with a filling. Fillings are made of either silver alloy, gold, porcelain, or a composite resin and all are supported by the American Dental Association and the FDA.

If your tooth decay is more extensive, your options may be limited. You might look into getting a crown. When a crown is needed, the decayed area of the tooth is removed and a crown is fitted over the remainder of the tooth. The material a crown is made of is the same material that is used for a filling.

If the nerve or pulp of a tooth is damaged, a root canal should be performed. During a root canal, the decayed tooth is removed and the root of the tooth is filled with sealing material.

There are several new cavity treatments being developed, one treatment uses fluorescent light to detect developing cavities. If cavities are detected early, there is a possibility that the tooth decay can be stopped or even reversed. Researchers are also working on a “smart filling” that will prevent tooth decay by slowly releasing fluoride around fillings and surrounding teeth.Tri

Prevent permanent damage to your teeth by practicing good oral hygiene and scheduling visits to your dentist on a regular basis.

Trisha Banks is a blogger for Lakeway Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry in Lakeway, Texas. Trisha wants to know the treatment options for cavities.