A cavity is a common dental problem and is often characterized by a hole in the tooth as a result of the tooth decay process. If tooth decay is not treated, your enamel loses minerals over time and eventually leads to a cavity or a dark hole in your tooth. However, you can avoid cavities by taking good care of your oral health and hygiene.
What Is a Cavity/Tooth Decay?
Cavities are holes formed on your tooth’s surface. They occur when bacteria in your mouth produce acid that damages the tooth’s enamel and its core layer: the dentin. When foods such as bread, cookies, juice, milk, candy, and fruits get stuck in your teeth, bacteria that live in your mouth digest it and produce acids. These acids weaken the tooth enamel.
Causes of Cavities and Tooth Decay
Cavities and tooth decay are caused by various factors, such as the presence of plaque and excess bacteria in your mouth, sipping sugary drinks, frequent snacking, and not practicing proper oral hygiene.
Symptoms of Tooth Decay
Commonly observed tooth decay symptoms are :
- Pain Tooth pain is one of the main symptoms of having a tooth cavity.
- Pressure If you experience pain when biting with your teeth or feel increased tooth sensitivity, you may have a tooth cavity developing in your mouth. You will feel sudden pain while eating anything.
- Pitseptible to a cavity, will develop a noticeable pit or hole in it. This hole will be visible on a dental X-ray.
- Pus If you have developed a cavity in your tooth, there will be pus around it.
Treatment for Cavities
Cavities are common, and if detected early, they are easy to treat. Make an appointment with your dentist and tell them about the symptoms you are experiencing. Here are some of the treatment options for dental cavities:
- Fluoride Treatments Fluoride treatments are helpful if your tooth has just begun to form a cavity. It helps restore your tooth's enamel and can reverse a cavity in the very early stage.
- Fillings Tooth-Colored fillings, or restorations, are the primary treatment option if tooth decay has progressed beyond the first stage. Fillings are made of different materials, such as porcelain, tooth-colored composite resins, or dental amalgam.
- Crowns When the tooth decay has progressed to an advanced stage, you will have to opt for a dental crown, which is a custom-fitted covering that substitutes your tooth's entire visible portion. Before fitting a crown, the entire decayed portion of the tooth will be drilled away by your dentist.
- Root Canals This is a restorative treatment to save a severely infected tooth instead of extracting it. The affected tooth pulp is removed and replaced with a filling.
- Tooth Extractions The tooth needs to be extracted if it's decayed beyond repair. In such cases, you can opt for dentures or dental implants to replace the missing tooth.
Preventing Tooth Decay
To prevent tooth decay, you should:
- Make a habit of brushing your teeth daily with toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride prevents mineral loss from tooth enamel and reduces the bacteria’s capability to make acid, which harms the tooth.
- Floss regularly to prevent the dental cavity by removing food particles between teeth.
- Use a good mouthwash to kill the bacteria that cause plaque.
If you have any symptoms of a dental cavity or tooth decay, call us at (515) 276-0202 to Schedule an appointment with our expert dentist in Des Moines.