Dental Cavities—Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

21 August 2023
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

Do you experience sudden toothache or sensitivity after taking a bite of that mouth-watering candy or ice cream? It is common knowledge that sugar-laden foods and an overall poor oral hygiene routine contribute to tooth decay and cavities. However, despite the prevalence of the condition, cavities can be prevented. Here is information on the causes, symptoms, and prevention of cavities to help you achieve better oral health.

Causes of Cavities

Cavities form when plaque (a combination of bacteria, food debris, and saliva) accumulates on the surface of the tooth. This buildup can lead to dental decay and other oral health issues. When bacteria interact with carbohydrates or sugar present in food, they produce acid, which causes enamel to demineralize gradually. This results in tiny holes that gradually grow into larger cavities. The longer you consume sugar without brushing, flossing, or rinsing with water, the bigger the plaque grows, which ultimately leads to cavities.

Symptoms of Cavities

Cavities do not show symptoms at their onset. However, as they grow, you may notice some signs such as toothaches, sensitivity to cold or hot, holes or pits in the tooth's surface, visible stains on the surface of the tooth, pain when you bite, or darkening of the tooth. Neglecting cavities can result in serious consequences like dental abscesses, infections, and even tooth loss. Hence, it is imperative to undergo regular dental check-ups to promptly identify and treat them before they worsen.

Preventing Cavities

The best way to prevent dental cavities is through good oral hygiene practices. Ensure optimal oral hygiene by following these habits: floss at least once a day, brush your teeth twice daily, and rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after consuming sugary or carbohydrate-rich food. Limit your sugar intake, choose sugar-free chewing gum that contains xylitol to stimulate saliva production, and ensure that you see your dentist regularly for a check-up and cleaning. Fluoride toothpaste and dental sealants can also provide an additional layer of protection against cavities.

Treatment of Cavities

If you suspect you have a cavity, book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. The selected treatment strategy will be determined by the severity of your condition. The most frequently recommended option is a dental filling, which entails the removal of the decayed portion of the tooth followed by filling it with materials like composite resin, amalgam, or porcelain. In cases of more severe infection, a root canal or tooth extraction may be necessary.

Tooth decay and cavities are preventable with good oral hygiene practices and regular dental check-ups. If you notice any unusual symptoms in your mouth, seek advice from your dentist as soon as possible. Preventing and treating cavities is a critical step in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.