Dealing With Cavity – And How To Avoid It

Symptoms & Solutions

Cavity is one of the most common dental issues and it affects all ages. It’s a hole in the tooth that develops from tooth decay. If cavity isn’t treated, it can only get deeper and affect your overall health, but you can also lose your tooth. So, it’s crucial to go visit your dentist as soon as you notice the symptoms. Of course, regular dentist checkups increase your chances of preventing cavity in the first place.

What Causes Cavity

There are a lot of things that play a part in creating cavity: bacteria in your mouth, certain food and dental hygiene.

It all starts with plaque, that sticky film that coats your teeth, that forms because of sugary or starchy food and not cleaning your teeth properly. When you consume that kind of food and don’t brush your teeth properly, the bacteria feeds on the remaining sugars and starch and starts forming plaque in order to protect itself. The plaque can also harden with time and form tartar, which makes plaque difficult to remove and protects the bacteria.

Plaque’s acid then starts removing minerals from your tooth’s enamel (the hard, outer part) and creates little holes in your enamel. This is the first stage of a cavity. The more you wait to fix it, the deeper the bacteria goes and when it reaches the innermost tooth material, the pulp or nerve, the red alert is signaled by your body and voilà – pain!

How Do I Know If I Have A Cavity?

Pain doesn’t necessarily start until after bigger damage is done. However, there are a few symptoms that you might notice even now:

  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste in your mouth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Tooth Sensitivity
  • Dark spots on your tooth

Types of Cavities

A cavity can affect all of the tooth’s layers – enamel (the outermost layer), dentin (the middle layer) and pulp (the innermost layer). However, it takes up to three years for a cavity to break through the enamel. Once it’s in – it progresses pretty quickly.

  • Smooth Surface Cavity
    • The smooth surface cavity only attacks the outermost part of your tooth – the enamel. You can prevent this (and sometimes reverse it!) by maintaining proper dental hygiene. Usually, it is formed between teeth.
  • Pit and Fissure Cavity
    • These cavities tend to form on the chewing surface of back teeth, and the back of upper front teeth. It tends to start during teenage years.
  • Root Cavity
    • They develop on the root surface, especially when there are gum recessions.

Can A Cavity Cause More Problems?

Yes. Not only will you have bad breath, which is an issue of its own, but you are also at risk for further problems with your teeth and your overall health. When a cavity goes untreated for too long, you can lose parts of your tooth or even the whole thing. An advanced cavity can lead to severe infections and swelling that can spread to your jaw and even all over your body.

Can A Cavity Heal on Its Own

No. At least not naturally. If you don’t do anything about it, the bacteria that causes the cavity will only go deeper in your tooth and cause more serious damage. However, if you notice it early enough (which is why regular dental visits are a must!), you can take care of it with proper oral hygiene. You want to restore the minerals you lost by using fluoride, brushing properly and flossing.

Does My Tooth Hurt Because Of Cavity?

It’s likely your toothache is caused by a cavity. In the early stages of a cavity, you might feel mild pain and tooth sensitivity. In later stages, a cavity can affect the nerve causing intense pain. In some cases the bacteria that causes the cavity can go far into the root reaching the bone and gums, causing an abscess. A tooth abscess happens when a cavity grows very large and causes the pulp to die or become inflamed.

It is accompanied by almost unbearable pain and serious infections.

However, your toothache doesn’t have to be cavity-related but can be caused by a sinus infection or problems with the temporomandibular joint.

How Can You Fix A Cavity?

That depends mostly on the severity of the cavity. If it’s in the early stages, it can be treated with proper dental care. This is when you will use fluoride and try to restore minerals to your enamel.

If the hole has already formed, your dentist will drill out the decayed material and fill the hole.

If the cavity has made it to your roots – you will probably need to have your pulp removed, that is – the parts of it that contain nerve endings and cause pain. This is known as root canal. If a root canal can’t do, your dentist will probably suggest pulling the tooth out and replacing it with a dental implant.

How to Avoid Having Cavity

We might sound like a broken record here, but for a good reason! Regular visits to the dentist’s office, brushing your teeth properly, flossing and cutting up on sugary and starchy foods will help you avoid cavities. Visit your dentist at least twice a year, use fluoride toothpaste twice a day and don’t brush your teeth immediately after every meal – rather wait for an hour. In all cases, Blue Haven Dental is here for you.