What Are Cavities and How Do They Form?
A toothache is arguably one of the most painful things you can experience and is one of the main clues that you may have a dental cavity. Cavities, also known as caries or tooth decay, are an extremely common problem that affects at least 92 percent of the adult population. If left untreated, they can lead to extreme pain and even loss of your tooth. The causes of tooth decay can vary, but the leading cause of this unpleasant condition is typically poor oral hygiene. We here at Century Dental strongly recommend having a good oral hygiene routine in place to help prevent cavities and unwanted loss of your teeth.
The Whole Truth about Holes in Your Tooth
Dental enamel is the hardest substance in your body, but even as tough as it is, it can become compromised by tooth decay. Cavities form when bacteria linger on your teeth long enough to break down the enamel, causing infected holes and areas of damage to your teeth. If they are allowed to progress, they can penetrate all the way down into your pulp, the network of blood vessels and nerves deep inside your tooth. This can lead to the death of your tooth, extreme pain, and loss of your tooth.
Signs that you have a cavity include sensitivity to heat or cold, pain when you bite or chew, pain when you eat sugary foods, an ongoing toothache, holes in your teeth that you can see with your naked eye, and dark spots or discoloration on the surface of your tooth. At first, a cavity may go undetected, but as it grows in size and depth, pain can quickly follow.
Your mouth is full of bacteria, and while some of the bacteria can be beneficial, most are harmful and can cause lasting complications. The bacteria can accumulate on your teeth and along your gumline in a sticky residue called plaque. If you don’t remove it, the toxic byproducts and acid formed by the bacteria can start to wear down your dental enamel. Plaque can harden and become tartar or calculus, making the problem even worse. Once the bacteria break through the enamel, the next layer of your tooth (the dentin), is at risk. It’s not as hard as enamel, and it does not take long for the bacteria to move into your pulp.
Certain foods can make you more prone to tooth decay. Avoid sugary foods and soft drinks and try to stay away from wine and coffee. Sticky foods like caramels and taffy can be particularly dangerous, as they stick to your teeth and are tricky to remove. Try to reach for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and dairy and drink plenty of water to help keep your teeth healthy and strong. Brush your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time, with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Floss nightly and take care to work the floss between your teeth and up under your gum line to remove all trapped food and bacteria.
In addition to a good oral hygiene regimen, you also need to visit us every six months for a checkup and a cleaning. For more information about cavities, or to schedule an appointment with us, please give us here at Century Dental a call today at (971) 708-1608 to help prevent unwanted tooth decay and tooth loss!