Cavity. It is the word that you never want to hear during your dental appointment. You are pretty sure you know what you are supposed to do to prevent it, and you know it requires a filling if you have one. Beyond that, however, how much do you really know about cavities?
A cavity is essentially tooth decay that is caused by a combination of bacteria and food. As the bacteria feed on the sugars in the food you eat, they make acids. The acids attack the teeth for 20 minutes or more after eating. Over a period of time, these acids eat away at your tooth enamel, resulting in hole or cavity in your teeth that can grow bigger and deeper the longer it is left untreated. Tooth decay remains the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults, even though it is largely preventable.
We never want to think about having a cavity, but the sooner you identify one, the better your outcome. In fact, did you know that the early signs of tooth decay are actually reversible?
Here are three signs that you might have a developing cavity:
- Pain and Sensitivity. This is the most obvious. If your teeth hurt or if you notice that a specific area in your mouth has become sensitive to hot, cold or sugary foods, it could mean that decay has made its way through your tooth’s enamel and reached nerve endings inside your tooth.
- Bad Breath. Cavities that are more severe or have had time to fester can cause bad breath. Bacteria is the simple culprit for this.
- A White Spot on Your Tooth. When a tooth is exposed to repeated acid attacks, the enamel will lose minerals. A white spot on your tooth appears where minerals have been lost and it is a signal of early tooth decay. The good news here is that tooth decay can be stopped or reversed at this point. Enamel can repair itself by using minerals from saliva and fluoride from your toothpaste.
Now that you have a deeper knowledge of what exactly a cavity is, it makes your efforts to prevent one a little more meaningful. Keep brushing and flossing every day to fight the battle of tooth decay. Most importantly, if you do notice any of the signs of a cavity, whether at its early developing stage or painful progressed stage, you must see your dentist for proper treatment. Gilreath Family Dentistry offers tooth-colored fillings as part of their comprehensive dental services to patients of all ages.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,