The American Dental Association estimates that more than one in five Americans have untreated cavities. While many are aware of the risk of tooth decay, only a few people seek treatment for their dental problems.
A cavity is basically a hole in your tooth caused by tooth decay when certain bacteria produce acid that destroys the enamel and the dentin. Over time, the acid causes the minerals from the enamel to be released through a process referred to as demineralization or the loss of phosphate and calcium in your teeth enamel. Cavities may also form if the root of your tooth has been exposed due to receding gums. You can also get cavities if you have a dry mouth.
How are cavities treated?
While it’s better to avoid getting cavities altogether, decaying teeth can be saved with restorative treatment conducted by your dentist. Dental professional Scott Dentistry explains early cavities, such as white spot lesions, can be treated through remineralization. It's a treatment that hardens your tooth’s enamel with fluoride and calcium. Using a fluoride toothpaste can work towards strengthening your enamel.
Other restorative methods such as pulp capping, root canals and fillings can be used to treat cavities. If your decay hasn’t reached the tooth’s nerve or pulp, your dentist will remove the decay and cover the area with an amalgam filling or a resin composite. If the decay has reached the pulp, you may need to undergo a root canal.
How to prevent tooth decay?
Avoiding sugary foods and starches that stay in the mouth for long will limit your teeth’s exposure to acid produced by carbohydrates and sugars. If you have a cavity, you’re likely to experience pain when chewing food or sensitivity to cold or hot foods and beverages. Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods and remember to brush and floss regularly.
Prevention is always better than cure. So better visit your dentist regularly for cleaning, as this might help detect any teeth problems early.