Cavities are a lot more common than you might think. According to the Canadian Dental Association, nearly 100% of adults worldwide have tooth decay! Plus, oral health isn’t an isolated thing; it’s connected to other aspects of your overall physical health and can actually impact your organ function if severe oral conditions are left untreated for too long.
So what can you do to maintain good oral health and prevent cavities from developing? The best course of action is to educate yourself on what cavities are, what causes them, what symptoms to look out for, and what preventive measures you can take to avoid getting them.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities, which are also referred to as dental caries, are small holes that form inside your teeth. Everyone is prone to getting at least one or two cavities in their lives regardless of how strict their oral hygiene routine is. This is because no matter what, you have to eat and drink in order to survive and cavities are typically caused by excess food, sugar, and carbohydrate deposits that linger between your teeth and in your gums.
Since most people don’t brush or floss their teeth in between every single meal throughout the day, getting at least one cavity is almost inevitable. And the chances of developing a cavity is even higher for people who tend to snack in between meals because you’re consuming even more food that could potentially get stuck between your teeth for the rest of the day until you brush and floss in the evening.
If you’re going to snack in between meals, it’s best to choose raw fruits and vegetables instead of candy, chips, or chocolate because they naturally help scrub away stuck on foods from your teeth.
Types of Cavities
There are three types of cavities that you should know about: smooth surface, pit and fissure, and root cavities. The type of treatment required depends on the type of dental cavity you have. Your dentist should be able to identify the type of cavity you have and recommend the right treatment option for it.
Smooth Surface Cavities
As the name suggests, this type of cavity develops on the smooth outer surface of the tooth. Harmful bacteria eat away at the tooth enamel, which may cause discomfort, sensitivity, and in severe cases, pain. With this type of cavity, it’s common to see small white spots on the surface of the tooth where the enamel is weakened. Compromised or weakened enamel increases the chances of internal tooth decay. Premolars and back molars, which are used for chewing food and are located all the way at the back of the mouth, are typically the most prone to developing cavities. Part of the reason is that food particles are more likely to become lodged between those teeth and the other part is because they’re difficult to manually clean at home. Most standard toothbrushes don’t reach far enough to properly clean the back molars and flossing between them is very difficult for a lot of people. The smooth surfaces between the teeth is where the most cavities form when these back teeth are not flossed regularly.
Pit and Fissure Cavities
The pits and fissures are the small grooves on the biting surfaces of your molars and premolars that facilitate chewing food. It can be difficult to cleanse these pits and fissures and then cavities develop. Scheduling regular dental cleanings is the best way to keep your molars clean and prevent cavities from forming, so that you can continue to chew your food comfortably.
Also known as root caries and root decay, root cavities develop on the root surface of the tooth right below or under the gum line. Typically, root cavities are only visible if your gum line has receded, which is another indicator that your oral health is suffering. Both are symptoms of moderate or advanced periodontitis (gum disease).
What Causes Cavities and How Are They Formed?
Cavities can develop as a result of poor oral hygiene, as a symptom of a physical illness or condition, as a side effect of a medication or treatment, from improper brushing or flossing, from neglecting to schedule regular dental cleanings, and so forth.
Dry mouth and the release of stomach acids is often a side effect or symptom of certain medications and illnesses. The lack of saliva combined with rising stomach acids into the oral cavity can dry out the mouth and erode the tooth enamel to the point of causing tooth decay. People who suffer from dry mouth should do their best to stay hydrated throughout the day and avoid mouth breathing as much as possible so as not to exacerbate the condition.
Tooth Decay Preventive Measures and Treatments
Preventive care for your oral health is pretty simple for the most part. It starts with making regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and checkups. The importance of routine dental visits can’t be stressed enough because it’s during these appointments that your dentist can clean and carefully examine your teeth to identify and diagnose any potential dental issues you may have. One preventive procedure for the pits and fissures of the back teeth is to place sealants before cavities forms.
Second, it’s important to be vigilant when it comes to establishing a strong dental hygiene routine at home. Brush twice a day, floss every night before bed, and rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash. That’s the bare minimum you can do.
If you want to do more, then you can also start brushing and flossing your teeth between meals throughout the day or at the very least, rinse your mouth out with warm water every time you eat.
As far as treatment goes, there’s no reversing the effects of tooth decay. But you and your dentist can work together to stop the problem from getting worse and your dentist can apply a filling to fill in the hole in your tooth.
For more information and great tips to maintain your oral health, contact Princeview Dental Group in Etobicoke. Our professional and compassionate dental staff is here to take care of all of your oral health needs!