Get to Know Dental Cavities
Dental cavities (cavities in teeth) are holes in teeth. These cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria bring change in the sugar in food you eat and produce acid. This acid attacks the enamel, the outer layers of teeth. Cavities may become bigger and deeper over time. Cavities if not treated destroy the teeth and even damage the nerves in its center. This article discusses the causes, signs and preventive steps on dental cavities.
Causes of dental cavities
- Diet that has high amount of sugar
This is an important cause of dental cavities in many people especially children. Food and drinks that contain high amount of sugar can damage your teeth as bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar and produce acid. This acid dissolves enamel of the tooth.
Fruit juices and soft drinks contain sugar and hence are not good for your teeth. Limiting the intake of such food and drinks is helpful in preventing dental cavities.
- Dry mouth – a condition that arises due to lack of saliva
Saliva comprises water (90%), which acts as a defense against dental cavities. If the mouth is dry due to lack of saliva, your teeth becomes more prone to cavities. Dry mouth can be caused by certain medications, certain illnesses, and treatment such as radiation therapy, etc. It may be permanent or temporary depending on the cause.
- Tooth grinding
Many people have the habit of tooth grinding when they are asleep. They do so without their knowledge. This can lead to loss of tooth enamel – the hard and shiny layer of teeth, leaving the next layer of tooth called dentin exposed. The dentin is soft when compared to enamel, and gets easily attacked by bacteria in the mouth thus leading to tooth decay faster.
A simple bite guard or night guard can help curing tooth grinding. This minimizes the risk of cavities.
Signs of dental cavities
In early stage, there might be no symptoms or signs, but as the cavity grows, the following symptoms manifest:
- Tooth pain – a common symptom
- Sensitivity of teeth
- Visible holes on the your tooth or teeth
- Tenderness in teeth when eating sweet, hot or cold food
- Pain when you bite
The pain can range from mild to sharp depending on how deep the cavity is.
Tips for preventing dental cavities
- Brush and floss regularly to prevent the build-up of plaque.
- Visit dentist regularly as this can help prevent problems in early stage rather than leaving them untreated and making the problem a major one.
- Keep a check on your daily diet. Avoid sugary and starchy foods, which are the main cause for tooth decay. Include fruits and vegetables in your diet which are healthy for your teeth.
- Use a toothpaste that has an appropriate amount of fluoride.
It is advisable to visit dentist every six months, so that any cavity or any other problem can be detected and treated early before it becomes a major issue.