A tooth cavity is one of the most common forms of oral health infections- affecting all genders and ages.
Also referred to as dental caries or tooth decay, it involves the development of holes or opening on your teeth enamel.
These openings are permanent and result from a list of factors, with the main culprit being the bacteria.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the leading causes, signs and symptoms, and remedies for tooth cavity.
Two main factors contribute to tooth cavity- bacteria and high sugar, starch diet.
This is how they lead to the formation of tooth decay:
1. Plaque formation: when you sugar- and starch-rich foods and fail to clean your teeth properly, bacteria will feed on them and form plaque (the hard coating on your teeth surfaces).
When this sick coating stays on your teeth for a long time, it results in tartar- an even harder substance that forms right above the gum line.
This creates a shield for the bacteria and makes the plaque challenging to remove.
2. Plaque launches an attack: the acid present in the plaque demineralizes your tooth enamel, resulting in tiny openings/holes on the enamel. This signals the first stage of the tooth cavity.
When the acid completely eats away the enamel, it reaches the next layer of your tooth- the dentine- which is softer and less resistant to acid.
It also features small tubes or channels that directly communicate with the nerves, meaning its exposure will result in tooth sensitivity.
3. More destructions: the acid and bacteria continue digging deeper into your teeth and reaches the pulp section which accommodates blood cells and nerves.
This irritation of pulp causes it to swell, pressing the nerves and pain and discomforts ensues.
The pain is so much that it extends to the jaw bone and even to the nearby teeth.
Additional factors that increase your risk of getting a tooth cavity include:
- Eating sticky foods such as milk, cookies, sugar, honey, dried fruit, soda, hard candy, chips, etc. that can’t be easily washed off your teeth surface by saliva.
- Not brushing your teeth frequently or right after taking the above foods encourages the formation of plaque
- Fluoride deficiency can also cause a cavity. This explains why this naturally occurring mineral is common in most toothpastes, water, and even the public water
- Dry mouth or lack of saliva in your mouth facilitates the formation of plaque as the foods that stick in your mouth aren’t washed away in time. Besides, saliva contains some substances that counter the acid released by bacteria.
- Heartburns cause acid to flow into your mouth and add to the wearing of your teeth enamel
- Tooth decay also tends to affect the back teeth (molars and premolars) as they’ve many grooves, crannies, and pits that efficiently collect food particles. Plus they’re hard to clean
Tooth cavity tends to vary depending on the extent/stage and location.
You might not experience any signs at the beginning. But as the infection moves to later stages, you’ll get some or all of the following signs and symptoms…
- High tooth sensitivity
- Visible pits or holes on your teeth
- Pain when biting food, or when eating and drinking anything sweet, hot or cold
- Black/brown/white staining on the tooth surface
In case you experience any of these signs, call your dentist ASAP. Failure to do this, you’d be in for tooth cavity complications listed below:
- Pain that interferes with your daily life
- Tooth loss which affects your confidence and self-esteem
- Misalignment of teeth due to tooth loss
- Tooth abscess
- Chewing problems
- Swelling and pus around the affected area
- Tooth damage/broken tooth
The tooth cavity is a prevalent dental issue that doesn’t know age or gender. And if you don’t take the right preventive measures, you might soon become a victim.
That said, here are some top tips that you can observe to keep your teeth safe from decay:
- Go for regular checkups at your dentist’s office. This is important, keeping in mind that you might not know a cavity is developing until it forms a hole in your mouth. Luckily, your doctor will spot it on time and give you the best treatment to reverse it.
- Brush your teeth at least twice per day. Ensure you brush them with a fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the enamel and make them more resistant to acid
- If your dentist feels that you’re at a high risk of developing a cavity, they’ll recommend you to start rinsing your mouth regularly with a fluoride containing mouthwash
- How about putting on the dental sealants? Applied to the chewing surface of the back teeth, molars and premolar, this protective coats effectively seals the grooves and crannies on these teeth that easily collect food particles that act as food for bacteria and encourage plaque formation
- Drinking tap water (most public water usually contains sufficient fluoride content) will also give your teeth a higher stand against the cavity
- Avoid eating junk foods (foods rich in sugars and starch) and drinks as these help the mouth bacteria emit more acids to damage your teeth enamel- the onset of cavity
- Focus more on teeth healthy foods; foods that increase saliva flow (e.g., vegetables and fresh fruits), unsweetened tea or coffee, sugar-free gum (to help wash away the stick foods on your teeth surface).
The tooth cavity is a common dental infection that involves the formation of openings or holes in your teeth. The main causes of this condition include bacteria and plaque that result from eating foods with high sugar and starch content.
If you notice any of the symptoms I’ve listed in this post, you’d want to visit your dentist as quickly as possible to prevent the cavity from getting complicated and causing you more pain.
Also, be sure to observe the prevention tips I’ve shared with you above. These will save you the pain and suffering, as well as your time and money.
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