A cavity, also known as dental caries or decay is caused by a sticky biofilm called plaque. The plaque is full of bacteria. Cavity-causing bacteria feed off of simple sugars that we eat and drink. Examples are, bread, milk, candy, and pop. This creates acids that eat away at the outer layer of your tooth called enamel and can progress further into the tooth until it is fixed by a dentist. This process causes a cavity or “hole” in your tooth. Cavities do not often cause pain, and often don’t until they are extensive. It really depends on the severity of the decay.
Symptoms of tooth decay are:
• Visible holes in the tooth
• Sweet sensitivity
• Cold or hot sensitivity
• A visible dark spot present on the tooth
If decay is left untreated a number of issues could arise. The tooth may become painful over time if the decay reaches deep and emcompasses the nerve space of the tooth. This can cause the tooth to become abscessed and treatment may require a root canal or extraction. If the bacteria from the decay reaches the bloodstream it can be very dangerous. This infection can travel to other parts of your body and can lead to sepsis.
How to prevent cavities?
1. Brush 2 times a day for a minimum of 2 minutes each time. Be sure to reach all areas of the mouth
2. Floss or use a water flosser at least once a day
3. Eat healthy nutritious food and avoid sugary foods and drinks
4. Visit your dental office for regular professional “cleanings” and dental exams with x-rays
5. Always be sure to replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head on your electric brush every 3 months to ensure the bristles are still adequately removing the plaque off your teeth.