Feeling pain while eating or drinking? You may have one of the most common dental problems in America: a cavity. While they are common enough to affect most people at least once, cavities are still a serious concern if not treated! Today we’ll talk about what causes cavities, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.
What is a Cavity?
Cavities are the literal breakdown of tooth enamel, the white, hard substance that form the outer shell of your teeth. They aren’t always easily visible, but advanced cavities are often marked by black spots or bleeding.
When food – especially anything with carbs or sugar – is left on your teeth, bacteria in your mouth begin to break it down. This creates plaque, which contains a number of acids. As you can probably imagine, acid hanging out in your mouth is a recipe for disaster: it eats through the enamel.
Children often get cavities as they are learning proper dental habits, but the elderly are also at risk: gums recede as you age, exposing more of your teeth to plaque.
How are Cavities Treated?
Cavities are usually found during a routine dental cleaning. Your dentist will offer to fill them with some sort of replacement enamel; the type of filling varies with the dentist and the nature of the cavity. If a cavity is severe, the tooth may have to be removed. Extreme cavities have the potential to cause infections, which are dangerous anywhere, let alone somewhere as sensitive in your mouth!
The easiest way to treat cavities is to prevent them. Brushing and especially flossing regularly prevent the buildup that causes plaque in the first place. It’s also very important to have regular dental exams and cleanings.
But by far the most important thing you can do to prevent cavities is watch your diet! Heavily acidic and sugary foods like soda cause plaque to accumulate at a faster rate.
Do you suspect you have a cavity, or need one filled? Klooster Family Dentistry can help! We have offices in both Holly Springs and Raleigh that are fully equipped for all your dental needs, and accept most major insurance plans. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.