• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Why Do Cavities Form And How Serious Are They?

What are Cavities?

Right from infants to elder people, everyone faces tooth cavity issues. Do you know what it exactly means?

A tooth is made of outer coating called enamel, the inner part called dentin, and pulp. The pulp is the living part of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels.

A cavity is the one that happens from tooth decay. A cavity can affect both the inner and outer coatings of the teeth.

Cavities are the permanently damaged areas that develop into tiny openings or holes. Cavities and tooth decay are reported to be the world’s most common health problems. If cavities are not promptly treated, they can cause severe toothache, infection, and even tooth loss.

Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Cavity

Symptoms of Cavities

Man suffering from toothache, Credits: pexels


Depending on the location and extent of the cavity, the signs and symptoms may vary. During the initial days, you may not feel any pain. As the decay gets deeper, the following symptoms may be seen.

  1. Tooth sensitivity

  2. Toothache for no apparent reason

  3. When you drink hot, cold, or sweets, you may feel mild and sharp pain.

  4. Staining (black, white or brown) on any surface of the tooth

  5. Pain during biting

  6. A visible hole in your teeth

Causes of Cavities

The causes of cavities can be due to the following.

  1. Food

  2. Poor dental hygiene

  3. Lack of fluoride

  4. Acid reflux disease

  5. Age

  6. Bedtime infant feeding

  7. Dry mouth

  8. Eating Disorders

Food

Causes of Cavities

Eating sugary foods cause cavities, Credits: pexels


Carbohydrates like bread, soda, fruits, cereals, and candy tend to stay on your mouth and can cause decay. The bacteria can convert them to acids. Bacteria, acid, debris, and saliva altogether can convert it to a plaque which tightly says on the teeth. The acids in the plaque can erode the enamel and create holes called cavities.

Poor Dental Hygiene

When we don’t brush after eating and drinking, there are higher chances that plaque forms and damages your tooth.

Lack of Fluoride

Causes of Cavities

A toothpaste, Credits: pexels


Sometimes your toothpaste, tooth powder, and the mouthwash you use may lack a component called fluoride. Fluoride is essential to prevent cavities and tooth damage.

Acid Reflux Disease

Causes of Cavities

Man suffering from acid reflux, Credits: pxfuel


A disease called acid reflux disease pulls the stomach acid into the mouth causing cavities.

Age

Causes of Cavities

Old age men, Credits: pxfuel


As a person gets older, the gums may pull away from your teeth. This can expose the roots of the teeth to form a plaque. And adding too much sugary drinks makes the issue worse.

Bedtime Infant Feeding

Causes of Cavities

Infant feeding, Credits: pexels


When babies are provided with sugary milk, formula, and juice during the bedtime, the beverages can remain in the teeth, attract the bacteria, and initiate tooth decay.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is due to the lack of saliva, which helps prevent tooth decay by washing away food and plaque from your teeth. Some medicines and chemotherapy drugs can reduce saliva production and puts you at risk of developing cavities.

Eating Disorders

Anorexia and bulimia are the eating disorders that interfere with saliva production and lead to significant tooth erosion and cavities.

Diagnosis of Cavities

Diagnosis of Cavities

An X-ray to diagnose to cavities, Credits: pexels


It is important to have frequent dental checkups. A dentist may be able to evaluate the cavity through physical examination or a dental x-ray.

Treatment for Cavities

Treatment for Cavities

A small buy brushing his teeth, Credits: pexels


If you have severe tooth pain, and couldn’t go to a dentist immediately, you can try doing the following.

  1. Brush your teeth with warm water.

  2. Use toothpaste that is designed for sensitive teeth.

  3. Try over the counter medicines like naproxen and ibuprofen to get relieved from the pain.

  4. If the tooth cavity is identified at an early stage, fluoride treatment may help recover the enamel and prevent tooth decay.

The treatment for the cavities depends on how severe it was. Depending on the nature of your cavity,   the following procedures will be performed by your dentist.

  1. Filling

  2. Crowns

  3. Root canal

Filling

Treatment for Cavities

Tooth filling, Credits: pexels


Your dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth using a drill, and fill the hole with a filling made of a silver alloy, gold, porcelain, or composite resin.

Crowns

Treatment for Cavities

A representation of dental repair, Credits: pexels


When the tooth is very badly damaged such that the enamel is completely lost, treating it with the crown is necessary. The damaged portion of the tooth is repaired and then a crown is fixed that is made from porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal over the rest of the tooth.

Root Canal

A root canal is required if the root or pulp of the tooth is injured or damaged. Along with the decayed portions of the tooth, the nerve, blood vessels, and tissue are also removed. The roots are filled with sealing material and a crown is placed over the filled tooth.

Can Cavities Cause Complications?

Yes! Definitely.

Complications of Cavities

Woman suffering from tooth pain, Credits: pexels


The long term complications of cavities include:

  1. Pain

  2. Trouble in chewing

  3. Tooth pain and damage

  4. Tooth loss

  5. Pus due to bacterial infection

How to Prevent Cavities?

Prevention of Cavities

Visit dentist frequently, Credits: pexels


Dental hygiene is important to prevent cavities.

  1. Brush twice a day with toothpaste that has fluoride.

  2. American Dental Association recommends flossing your teeth at least once daily

  3. Have a balanced diet. Cut down sugary drinks.

  4. Limit snacking between meals.

  5. Have frequent visits to your dentist and do routine cleanings.

Take-Home Message

Cavities can lead to long term complications if left untreated.

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