Cavities are located on the hard surface of the teeth and represent permanent damage that have resulted in tiny openings. Cavities are also known as “caries” and as “tooth decay”. Cavities are one of the most common oral health complications, worldwide. Anyone of any age can get cavities – even infants. If left untreated, they have the potential to become larger and may detrimentally impact the deep layers within the teeth.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities are a direct result of decay within the teeth. The following outlines the process in which cavities develop within the mouth:
- If an individual does not properly clean their teeth, the sugars and starches consumed in food products and drinks will result in the development of plaque, a sticky film that covers the surfaces of the teeth. When this happens, the plaque then starts to harden along the gum line.
- Once plaque hardens near the gum line, it transitions into tartar. This results in complications in removing the substance from the mouth. Additionally, bacteria starts to become shielded to feed on the sugars and starches that are consumed in the diet.
- The longer that plaque remains on the teeth, the more minerals that are removed from the enamel of the tooth. This is referred to as “erosion”.
- Eventually, the enamel is dissolved and the bacterium and acids in the mouth move on to the next area of the tooth, called the “dentin”. This layer of the tooth is directly connected to the nerve of the tooth, connected by small tubes. When a connection is made with the dentin, it is common for tooth sensitivity and pain to occur.
- Finally, the acids and bacterium in the mouth will eat through the dentin and make its way to the inner section of the tooth, referred to as the “pulp”. When this happens, the area becomes irritated and swollen. The nerve of the affected tooth becomes compressed and extreme discomfort is experienced.
How Do I Prevent Cavities?
To prevent the development of cavities, you must practice good dental hygiene, watch your diet, and regularly visit a dentist. To successfully prevent cavities, follow the steps outlined below:
- First, make certain that you brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush, toothpaste that contains fluoride, floss, and rinse with a fluoride-based mouthwash after eating and drinking.
- You should make certain that you visit your dentist at least twice a year for checkups and professional cleanings.
- If you are at high risk for developing cavities, you should consider having dental sealants placed on your teeth in order to prevent issues from developing.
- If your water does not contain fluoride, you should consider buying and drinking water that does contain fluoride.
- When eating and drinking, select those that are healthy, do not contain a high level of sugar and starch, and aid in increasing saliva flow within the mouth so that potentially dangerous substances are washed away from the teeth.
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