Did you know cavities is the #1 disease that has children missing school? Most people have had cavities at some point in their lives. The reason for the occurrence of cavities is not at all that mysterious. Not brushing and flossing your teeth are the primary reasons why you get it. Not going to the dentist every six months is another. Oftentimes, individuals do not give much importance to visiting their dentists. Another reason is eating sugary snacks and drinking sugary sodas. It’s best to get well informed than suffer the consequences later.
Q: Does tooth decay and tooth cavity mean the same thing?
A: Most people use the word tooth decay and tooth cavity interchangeably, but in reality they are one and the same. Tooth decay is really a process that results to tooth cavity. Tooth decay is the gradual damaging of the teeth caused by bacterial acids as they eat the food debris and plaque on the teeth. As the enamel get damaged (eaten away by bacteria), it creates an opening or a hole in the tooth surface which in turn is called cavity. This hole or cavity starts quite small that is not even seen by naked eye and little by little keeps getting bigger.
Q: How can I detect if I developed a cavity?
A: If a cavity is small, you can’t tell you have it. There is also no pain associated with cavities until they have become very deep. Dental X-rays can detect them. That’s why it is recommended to have your regular dental checkups. Your dental care provider can also measure the extent of the damage (how big the cavity is by the use of X-rays. During your dental check up, your dentist inspects your teeth for the signs of any cavity development. If the cavities have become bigger, they can be seen with the naked eye. They usually appear as a black spot or hole in your tooth. Sensitivity and toothache are also reliable signs, but at this point the cavity is probably very large.
Q: When is the best time to treat dental cavities?
A: The best time is when they are small, before they cause any more damage and destroy more of the tooth structure.
Q: How is dental cavity treated?
A: Your dentist will examine the extent of the damage. The size of the cavity determines what treatment is suited for it. Most are treated with fillings. Sometime if the cavity has become bigger and destroyed more of the tooth structure, an inlay or an onlay maybe recommended. If the damage has been extended where the tooth structure has weakened to the point of near fracture or has actually fractured, a dental crown is recommended.
When the cavity is too extensive and has reached the nerve, then a root canal is needed.
Q: Are there any ways you can prevent cavities?
A: Aside from a good oral hygiene which means a good home care, brushing 2-3 times per day and flossing once per day, and getting your teeth professionally cleaned by your dentist or dental hygienist, dental sealants are a great way to protect teeth. It is usually done on children when their permanent teeth have just erupted. But it can be done at any time and at any age, as long as the teeth are cavity free and don’t have fillings on them. Also you should have a well-balanced diet. Avoid sugary foods and drinks as much as possible.
Q: Are cavities contagious?
A: According to studies, the bacteria that cause cavities can be transmitted from one person to another. Click here to read more about this.
If you have any more questions about dental cavities, we will be happy to answer them for you. If you need a dental check up to keep your teeth in perfect condition, please call us for an appointment at (323) 771-7254.
By Ladan Zinati