Everything You Ever Cared to Know About Cavities
Cavities are the direct result of your tooth decaying. When your teeth decay, it is the destruction of the structure of your tooth. It can affect not only the enamel, but also the dentin. It occurs when you consume foods that have carbohydrates in them. Bacteria that live inside of your mouth will work to digest all of these foods and turn them into acid. Acid, bacteria, saliva and food particles work together to create plaque, which clings onto your teeth. All of the acids contained in plaque will dissolve your tooths enamel, which creates holes in your teeth.
Cavities: Who Gets Them?
Many people are under the assumption that cavities only affect children, but as you grow older, cavities pose a problem for adults as well. Receding gums, which are often affiliated with an increased likelihood of gingivitis, can cause your roots to become exposed to plaque. Sugary foods make just about anyone prone to the production of cavities.
For some people, they will end up with decay surrounding the edge of their fillings. Many older adults will lack all of the benefits that fluoride provides for them, as well as preventative care as they grow up. As a result, they end up with a number of fillings as they age. Over the course of time, these fillings will end up weakening and fracturing, which allows all of the bacteria to accumulate inside of the crevices and cause decay in your teeth.
Determining If You Have a Cavity or Not
When you go to the dentist for a regular checkup, the dentist will look to see if you have any cavities. Your tooths surface should feel soft when the dentist uses an instrument to probe it. An x-ray will help to show any cavities that are between your teeth before they can be seen by the naked eye. In an advanced stage of decay, you may suffer from a toothache, especially after you consume a hot, sweet or cold drink or food. Other common signs of decay are that of holes in the teeth or pits that are visible to the naked eye.
Treating Cavities: What Can You Do?
Numerous options are available for treating cavities, but they are all based upon how severe the tooth decay is. If it is not that severe, the portion of the tooth that is decayed can be removed with a drill and replaced with a filling that is composed of gold, silver, composite or porcelain. All of the materials used to make fillings are considered to be safe. Allergies to the silver materials are considered as rare as an allergy to any of the other restorative materials used to treat cavities.
If the decay is too severe and there is not enough of the tooth structure that remains, crowns can be used to help correct the problem. For those who need a crown, the weakened area of your tooth will need to be removed and repaired before the crown is fitted atop the remaining portion of your tooth. Crowns can be made from a porcelain, gold or porcelain fused to metal.
When the decay causes your pulp or nerve endings to die, you will need to have a root canal performed. During the procedure, the central part of your tooth is removed along with any portions of the tooth that are decayed. Your roots are then filled with a sealant. If needed, you can have a crown placed atop your tooth that is filled.
A number of new treatments for cavities are being developed. One of these techniques is the use of fluorescent light to help detect any cavities that are developing before they can be detected with an exam or x-ray. In many instances, if the cavity can be detected from an early stage, the process for decay can be reversed or stopped entirely. Researchers are also trying to develop a smart filling that will help to prevent any decay by releasing fluoride over the course of time around your fillings and any surrounding teeth. The goal is to try to keep your mouth as healthy as it can be for years to come.