One of the most common problems in the world are cavities and tooth decay. Cavities are small holes on your enamel caused by extreme tooth decay. Severe cavities can affect the inner layer of the tooth, dentin, and make it difficult to perform normal functions, like eating and speaking. Anyone can get cavities if they don’t maintain a proper dental care routine and healthy diet.
When you eat foods with sugars, they can get left behind on your enamel. Bacteria will then turn these sugars into acids that erode the enamel. A combination of bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva are formed into a sticky film called plaque. When plaque is not properly cleaned from the teeth, it can create cavities. Plaque also hardens over time into a rough, porous substance called tartar or calculus. Any tartar that forms can irritate and damage gums, leading to gum disease. It can only be removed with special tools at the dentist’s tooth.
Teeth in the back of the mouth are predisposed to cavities because they can be more difficult to clean. Molars have grooves & pits with multiple roots that can easily collect food particles. They’re also harder to reach & see, making it easy for plaque to build up.
If you suspect you have a cavity, the only way to confirm its presence is by making an appointment with the dentist. Common symptoms of having a cavity include:
Sometimes, there are no apparent signs that a cavity is forming. That’s why it’s important to have regular dental checkups, so your doctor can identify and treat any cavities.
The dentist will be able to detect cavities by performing a physical exam and taking x-rays. Cavities can be deeper than they seem and radiographs are helpful in determining how much the extent of their damage. After a thorough examination, the dentist will categorize the cavity as one of the following: smooth surface, pit and fissure, or root.
The most common way to treat cavities is by filling them. Fillings are made of a variety of materials, including composite, porcelain, or amalgam. The dentist will clean out the hole and remove any remaining plaque or bacteria. If there are infected parts of the tooth, they will be removed, too. Afterward, the filling material is placed in the hole to protect the tooth and restore it to its full functionality. The dentist will use a special light to dry the filling. For severe decay, the dentist may place a dental crown over the damaged tooth.
Untreated cavities can result in decayed teeth and destroyed pulp. When bacteria reach the inner material of the tooth, they can deteriorate the part of the tooth responsible for creating dentin, making damage irreversible. Since the pulp is contains the nerve, it can be extremely uncomfortable as well. To treat a cavity of this severity, dentists usually perform a mildly invasive procedure called a root canal to remove the dental pulp to save the remaining tooth and gums. If the cavity progresses past that point, the tooth could be damaged to the point that it needs to be completely removed.
It is possible that a tooth cavity can result in a tooth abscess, which is an infection inside the tooth that creates a pocket of pus from bacteria. This can lead to persistent toothache and sensitivity. In the worst case scenario, it can even result in sepsis, a life-threatening disease triggered by the immune system response.
Technically, enamel can repair itself when it’s remineralized from saliva or fluoride, but a cavity is permanent damage that completely destroys the enamel. Cavities need to be treated by dentists with a filling because the enamel cannot form back over a hole.
People often get cavities from eating or drinking foods and drinks that are full of sugar. However, the cavity-causing culprits are not as obvious as they seem! Not only are typical sugary foods like candy bad for your teeth, all carbohydrates digest into sugars. Avoiding all carbs is impossible because they are present in most foods, such as fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and grains, but it is possible to reduce the amount of sugar left on your teeth. Here’s how:
The best way to treat a cavity is by preventing it, which means keeping teeth clean and seeing the dentist regularly. Give us a call at Dr. Erwin’s dental practice in Glendale to make an appointment with our dentist today.