The Truth About Cavities

The Truth About Cavities

Post Date: May 10, 2023

Taking care of your mouth’s health can feel like a lot of pressure, especially when you’re worried about getting cavities. If your mouth feels good, do you really have to worry? Let’s look at the truth about cavities and how you can prevent them.

What is a cavity anyway?

A cavity is a damaged area in the hard part of a tooth caused by decay. It can lead to little holes forming in the tooth as it develops. When cavities—also called caries or tooth decay—grow, they can cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss.

How do you know if you have a cavity?

If you have any tooth sensitivity; pain when eating or drinking something hot, cold, or sweet; brown, black, or white stains on your teeth; pitting or holes in your teeth; or toothaches when you’re biting or just spontaneously, it could be a symptom of a cavity, but when a cavity is just starting to form, you might not have any symptoms yet. That’s why it’s essential to go in for regular checkups with your dentist. Annual x-rays of your mouth can help spot cavities when they’re still in their early stages. That makes them much less painful and less expensive to treat.

What causes cavities?

Cavities can form for many different reasons, but it all comes back to plaque. Plaque is the film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth throughout the day, especially when you eat sugary and starchy foods. If plaque isn’t removed correctly, whether from brushing, flossing, or professional cleaning, the acidity starts to break down the hard surface of your tooth.

Who is most likely to get cavities?

Anyone with teeth can get cavities. But they’re most common in kids, teens, and older adults. Some people are more likely to get cavities because of genetics, and some because of diet or poor oral hygiene.

What type of cavities are there?

Smooth surface cavities develop on the sides of your teeth, where flossing will help scrape plaque off your teeth. Pit-and-fissure cavities happen in those deep grooves in your back molars. They’re most common in kids and teens. Root cavities affect older adults most since they’re connected to gum disease and develop under the gum line.

Can you treat cavities?

Cavities cause permanent damage, but a dentist can do plenty to help treat them. If your dentist catches a cavity as early as possible, sometimes a fluoride rinse can reverse some minimal damage. The next step for treating cavities is a filling, where the damaged tooth is removed and filled with resin or porcelain. When damage has progressed, you might need a crown instead, where the upper portion of your tooth is replaced with a cap of gold, porcelain, resin, or other materials. When decay has reached the inner layer of your tooth, a root canal or extraction might be the best option for treatment.

How can you prevent cavities?

Best practices for preventing cavities are pretty straightforward. It starts with a solid home oral health routine. Brushing your teeth at least twice daily, morning and night is best. Flossing daily, getting under your gum line, and scraping the sides of each tooth, also can help remove plaque. Then, having a steady relationship with your dentist, going in once or twice each year for cleanings, a checkup, and x-rays, will go a long way to preventing cavities too.

Finding affordable oral care can be difficult. But when dentist visits are one of the best defenses against cavities, it’s an essential investment in the future of your teeth. CHP’s dental services and emergency walk-in dental clinic can help provide an affordable option for the community in Bozeman and Livingston. Make an appointment to help protect your mouth.