Think you may have cavities? Cavities are common in children, teens, and older adults, especially those who consume a lot of sugar and carbs and have poor dental hygiene. Although common, cavities are not something to be taken lightly. They can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Learn the signs of cavities to determine if you need to schedule an appointment with your dentist.
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How Do Cavities Happen?
Cavities occur when we consume food and drink that stick to our teeth such as milk products, sugar, and carbs, and we fail to clean them properly. The bacteria in our mouths process this food and drink to produce acid, which they store in plaque and tartar that rests against the teeth. This acid eats away at our teeth, creating the holes and pits we know as cavities.
What Are the Symptoms of Cavities?
As the acid in plaque and tartar eat away at our teeth, they go deep through all the layers of the teeth from the surface enamel to the softer dentin layer all the way to something called the pulp. The pulp is where the nerves of the teeth are stored. When the acid reaches the pulp, it becomes agitated and swollen and creates pressure against the teeth, causing pain.
Cavities do not always cause pain, but a toothache is a good sign that you may have them. Your toothache may have come on for no reason, or you may be experiencing pain whenever you bite. These are both signs of cavities.
Another sign of cavities is tooth sensitivity. If you feel sensitivity or pain whenever you eat something hot, cold, sweet, or acidic, you may have cavities. Pay attention to what you feel in your mouth when you eat.
3. Visible Holes or Pits
The most obvious sign of cavities is visible holes or pits in your teeth. These are the trademarks of cavities and should not be ignored. They usually start as a white spot on the surface of the teeth, so be on the lookout for this.
Are your teeth showing signs of brown, black, or white stains? It’s normal for coffee and wine to stain teeth, but cavities can also pick up stains from the things you eat and drink. Examine your mouth for abnormal stains.
What Can You Do to Prevent Cavities?
The advice for preventing cavities is simple. First, you can limit your consumption of sugary foods. It is especially important that you do not snack and sip on sugary food and drink throughout the day as this creates a constant wash of material for bacteria to use to create acid. Second, follow best practices for dental hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once per day, and visit your dentist every six months so they can catch tooth decay before it forms cavities. When you brush, clean your teeth for the full two minutes as recommended to clear all remaining food particles.
If you think you may have cavities, schedule an appointment with your dentist. We can examine your teeth and take x-rays to find cavities that are not visible to the naked eye. The sooner we can catch tooth decay, the better the long-term health of your teeth will be! At South Anchorage Dental, we are currently offering a Dental Savings Plan for 20% off all treatments. Call us today!