Cavities will not go away on their own, but they can be easily fixed with treatment.
Tooth decay ranks as one of the most common dental problems in the U.S. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 80 percent of adults will have at least one cavity by the age of 34.
Cavities occur most often in children and young adults. About half of young people between the ages of six and 19 will be diagnosed with a cavity in either their primary or permanent teeth. Older adults are also vulnerable to tooth decay, with one in four adults between 20 and 64 having one cavity. Yet whether young or old, cavities will not go away on their own. The only way to remove the decay and save your tooth is with treatment from a dentist.
What causes cavities, and how do you know you have one?
There’s a reason you’ve been told to stay away from sweets to prevent cavities. It’s because it’s true! Sugary, starchy foods such as soda, cookies, hard candies, ice cream, chips, and cake stick to your teeth, forming a sticky substance known as plaque. The longer plaque remains on the tooth, the more bacteria attach to it, leading to the formation of an acid. The acid eventually erodes the hard outer layer of the tooth, or the enamel, and creates a hole in the tooth.
If you consume a lot of sweets and don’t brush regularly, you raise your risk of cavities. But there are other risk factors, as well. People with dry mouth stand a higher chance of developing cavities because they lack enough saliva to whisk away bacteria and food particles. Also vulnerable to cavities are those suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn. That condition forces up acids from the stomach that can wear away the tooth enamel.
In the very early stages, a cavity may not have any symptoms. As the decay burrows into the tooth, you may notice a dark or white spot on the tooth. A toothache and sensitivity to hot and cold food are also frequent cavity side effects. You may have difficulty eating because of pain when biting down.
Why treatment is necessary to get rid of cavities
Never ignore cavity symptoms by thinking they will go away on their own. If cavities aren’t treated in a timely fashion, complications can develop. A bacterial infection can cause an abscess in the tooth. As decay reaches the tooth pulp, you may need a root canal and crown. Large cavities can also cause the tooth to weaken and break, potentially leading to tooth loss.
All those complications can be avoided with immediate treatment. To restore the tooth, your dentist removes the decay and plugs the hole with filling material. With this nearly painless procedure, the tooth is saved.
Butit doesn’t have to get to that point. And cavities are extremely preventable when you follow these tips:
Brush and floss daily. Daily brushing and flossing removes most of the plaque on your teeth, preventing the leading cause of decay.
Increase your fluoride intake. Fluoride is a known cavity fighter. Make sure to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and gargle with a fluoridated mouthwash. Another way to get more fluoride? Drink tap water. Municipal water supplies are filled with fluoride. Bottled water, on the other hand, lacks fluoride.
Try fluoride treatments. If you don’t get enough fluoride in your water, ask your dentist about supplemental fluoride treatments. It’s also recommended children get dental sealants applied to their back teeth to protect them from bacteria and plaque.
Cut down on sweets. Stop cavities from forming by simply cutting down on sweets. If you indulge occasionally, brush immediately afterward to remove the sticky film.
Don’t wait to treat cavities
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Norman, OK, location today! Our highly trained dentists can check your teeth for cavities and begin treatment. Don’t live near our Norman, OK, office? Find one of our other locations near you.
550 24th Ave. S.W.
Norman, OK 73069