A radiant smile can go a long way. Whether we are meeting someone for the first time or it is someone we have known for years, we always notice nice, white teeth. We want to have teeth we are proud to flaunt.
But having healthy teeth is also important for our physical well-being. Nothing is worse than a painful toothache that won’t go away. The most important step to keeping your teeth looking and feeling good is using proper care techniques that will prevent tooth decay, which is better known as cavities.
What Are Cavities
As children, cavities were beaten into our heads as something horrible. We were constantly reminded about the importance of flossing and thorough brushing to prevent the dreaded occurrence. As stated earlier, a cavity is just another way to say tooth decay. This is directly influenced by our lifestyle; what we eat, what we drink, how often (and well) we brush, how often (and well) we floss, etc. Even hereditary factors influence cavities!
Although cavities are more prevalent with children, adults are also susceptible to cavities. The major types of cavities are:
- Coronal Cavities – The most common type, these cavities are located on the chewing surfaces or between the teeth.
- Root Cavities – As we age, our gums naturally recede, leaving parts of our roots exposed. There is no enamel protecting our roots, so these areas are very prone to cavities.
- Recurrent Decay – Decay can easily form around existing fillings and crowns because these areas specialize in accumulating plaque, which leads to decay.
How Do I Know I Have a Cavity
This is a simple answer: regular check-ups with your dentist. There is no way for sure to know when we are showing early signs of decay, but dentists can quickly locate and fix cavities before more serious issues arise.
Cavities are developed below the tooth’s surface. Foods that are high in carbohydrates (sugars and starches) are some of the main culprits, as carbs are eaten by the bacteria in plaque, which produces acids that eat into our teeth. Over time, the tooth enamel starts to break down beneath the surface. As the sub surface enamel continues to deteriorate, the actual surface will eventually collapse, and our cavity is formed.
How Serious Are Cavities?
Not to be overly dramatic, but cavities are very serious if they go untreated. Over time, a cavity will rot the tooth and kill the sensitive nerves at its center. An abscess, an area of infection at the root tip, may form, and this can only be treated with a root canal, surgery, or a tooth extraction.
How Do I Prevent Cavities?
If you are someone who has been struggling with cavities your whole life, try some of these tips:
- Brush a minimum of twice per day.
- Floss daily to remove plaque buildup from between the teeth and below the gumline.
- After you brush, rinse with mouthwash.
- Use dental products that include fluoride.
- Try to limit your sweets, including sugary juices and sodas.
- Go to the dentist regularly.
So now that we know what cavities are and why they are bad, we can focus on the preventive measures listed above to limit them. None of these tips are particularly life altering, as we can easily incorporate them into our everyday life.
Here’s to having healthy, cavity-free teeth!