How do cavities develop?
First off, it is important to understand how cavities develop in the first place. Your mouth is full of bacteria that produce acids that damage your teeth. These acids, along with things like bruxism, can damage your tooth enamel and start the tooth decay process. If you do not properly care for your teeth, and employ good hygiene habits, cavities will start to form.
What is a cavity?
When acids in your mouth damage your tooth quicker than it can be repaired, a hole in your tooth starts to develop. This is a cavity. Unfortunately for you, there really are no signs of or symptoms of a cavity forming, but the Mayo Clinic suggests a few things to look out for. However, if you are not brushing, flossing, using mouth wash, and visiting your general dentist on a regular basis, you can expect to develop cavities. After a cavity has developed, it can become infected and cause a sharp pain that comes and goes.
How can I prevent cavities?
As stated above, brushing twice per day, flossing, using mouth wash, and visiting the dentist are all imperative in preventing cavities from forming. When choosing which dental hygiene products to use, always look for brands that contain fluoride. Fluoride helps to remineralize your teeth and prevent decay. If you are in need of a fluoride boost, you may want to ask your dentist about a fluoridation treatment.
Drinking tap water can also provide your mouth with more fluoride, and help you avoid dry mouth, a major contributor to the development of cavities. Unfortunately, if you suffer from dry mouth, it may be unavoidable, depending on what the cause is. Drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum that contains Xylitol are two great ways to prevent dry mouth.
In addition to your normal care, receiving dental sealants can help to prevent cavities from forming. Dental sealants should not replace your routine hygiene care, but should augment your care by creating an additional barrier between your teeth and the bacteria and acids in your mouth.
How will the Dentist fix my cavity?
There are three major ways that dentists correct a cavity: a filling, a dental crown, and a root canal.
Filling a cavity:
When you receive a filling, your dentist is filling in the area of the cavity with a substance to prevent bacteria from entering the space. A filling protects the inside of your tooth.
If you let a cavity develop too far, it may no longer be a candidate to receive a filling. This is because there is no longer enough natural tooth to support a filling. A crown will serve the same purpose as a filling.
On occasion, a cavity will cause the pulp of your tooth to become damaged, and inflict a lot of pain. If this happens, your dentist will remove the infected pulp and seal your tooth with a crown. Your remaining pulp will then be able to heal, and will be protected by the crown.
What problems do cavities cause?
If you develop a cavity, receiving a restoration is critical. If you do not have your tooth restored, it can become infected and start damaging the surrounding teeth, your gums, and even your jaw bone. Health issues that cavities can cause include tooth loss, gum disease, and loss of jaw bone structure. In addition to these, cavities can also be a major contributor to halitosis (bad breath). As bacteria and food particles get stuck in your decayed tooth, they will omit a foul odor and cause bad breath. To eliminate this bad breath, you need to eliminate the root cause—the cavity.