What is a Cavity?

Cavity“You have a cavity.” This is a statement no one wants to hear from their dentist! Cavities are serious oral health problems that must be treated as quickly as possible. Untreated cavities will move deep on down into the teeth, cause considerable pain and possibly even lead to the need for an extraction. You can avoid this nightmare by visiting with your dentist every six months, taking excellent care of your teeth and avoiding specific foods.

Why Cavities Form

A cavity, also known as dental caries, forms when teeth decay occurs. Most people think of cavities as a dark spot on a tooth that results from excessive sugar consumption or poor oral hygiene. The reality is a cavity is a hole. This hole has the potential to grow larger as time progresses. The hole is formed due to plaque. Plaque is a slimy film comprised of germs that lead to tooth decay. Plaque is formed through the combination of saliva, food debris, and acid. Bacteria in the mouth leads to the formation of acid. Acids will consume the outer layer of teeth when plaque is present. As the enamel dissolves, the holes known as cavities begin to form.

The most common foods and drinks that lead to tooth decay are those with a significant amount of carbohydrates or sugar. Examples include fruit, soda, bread, milk, candy, and cereal. Try to limit your intake of these foods. If you have a craving for a sugary or starchy food, do your best to clean your mouth after consuming it. Even rinsing with water will help eliminate leftover food particles that have the potential to cause cavities.

Cavities Should be Treated Right Away

Skip your 6-month dental visits and the acids in your mouth will move on through the tooth enamel, into the tooth interior and cause decay. Toothaches occur when cavities reach way down deep into the tooth where the nerve endings are located. A dentist will be able to pinpoint cavities as soon as they begin to form. If the dentist finds a cavity, he or she will repair it with a removal of the rotting section of the tooth. This removal requires the use of a specialized drill. The dentist fills the hole in the tooth. The end result is known as a “filling”.

How to Tell if a Cavity is in the Mouth

In most cases, you will not know you have a cavity. It is imperative you visit your dentist at regular 6-month intervals so he or she can check for cavities. The dentist will probe your teeth, search for soft spots and check between the teeth with an analysis of x-rays. If you have a tooth that aches after eating something cold, hot or sweet, it is an indication you might have a cavity. If you suspect you have a cavity, contact an appointment with your dentist right away, even if your next scheduled visit is several months away.

For more information call North Tampa Dentistry at (813) 968-5368.

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