We often hear the word ‘cavities’ or ‘tooth decay’ mentioned at the dentist’s or in toothpaste commercials. So, what are cavities or tooth decay?
Tooth decay occurs when acid is produced from the plaque in your mouth. Plaque is the bacteria which grows on the surfaces of your teeth,
You will be more prone to tooth decay if you eat and drink a lot of sugar-containing foods and drinks, as well as acidic foods and drink such as citrus fruits and fruit juices.
Some people are going to be more prone to suffering cavities simply because there is a family history of poor dental health.
Cavities affect adults and children
While it is quite common for children to experience tooth decay, as an adult you are also at risk. The types of cavities you can develop can differ too, so not all cavities are exactly the same.
Here are some examples of cavity types that can develop:
- Coronal cavities: These are the most common type found in both children and adults. Coronal cavities usually affect the chewing surfaces or between the teeth
- Recurrent decay: Even when you have had a filling, decay can still form around it as well as around dental crowns
- Root cavities: These are experienced as we age. Gums can recede leaving parts of the tooth root exposed to decay
Saliva is also an important part of keeping your mouth healthy. Many adults can suffer from dry mouth as a side effect of medication or illness, so cannot easily produce saliva to neutralise mouth acids that lead to cavities.
Symptoms of Tooth Decay.
Tooth decay often does not cause any pain.
However, if left untreated then tooth decay may cause problems such as toothache, teeth sensitivity, discoloured spots appearing on your teeth, bad breath (halitosis) and an unpleasant sour or bitter taste in your mouth.
Ever heard of the ‘tooth worm’?
People have been suffering from dental cavities for centuries and back when science was in its early stages most people believed in the ancient folk law of the ‘tooth worm’.
According to these old beliefs, if you suffered from a toothache it was probably caused by a tooth worm burrowing into your tooth and wriggling around. Early medical practitioners would try to tempt out a tooth worm by using honey, burning herbs and other bizarre rituals.
Mostly their efforts failed, and the offending tooth and its resident tooth worm were often simply extracted to cure the tooth pain. Luckily these days we know that there are no such things as tooth worms and that bacteria is the true cause of tooth decay.
We also have much better treatment options available to deal with cavities than the complete removal of a tooth.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is entirely preventable and the best way to avoid any problems is to look after your teeth and gums.
You may suspect you have a cavity forming but your dentist is the only person that can confirm this for you. The best way to treat a cavity is to catch it before it becomes serious. You can do this with regular dental check-ups.
Cut down on sugary and starchy food and drinks especially between meals or just before you go to bed.
Be aware that some medications can contain sugar so look for sugar-free alternatives if possible.
Look after your teeth and gums by brushing with fluoride toothpaste at least twice per day as well as using interdental brushes and floss on a daily basis.
Avoid smoking and drinking if possible since tobacco can interfere with your salivary flow and alcohol can cause erosions of your teeth enamel.
Getting Treatment ASAP
It is important that you have regular check-ups with your dentist so that they can spot any cavities forming. Left untreated, a cavity can eat away at your tooth and destroy the nerve at the centre. You can develop an infection that can affect the jaw bone and you could risk losing other teeth. so please check your nearby dentist click here to book your appointments.