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Dental Cavities - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Dental Cavities

We have all heard about the dreaded “Cavities” in teeth that occur on eating chocolates. But do you know exactly what are these dental cavities, how do they form and if there’s a way to prevent them? Dental Cavities or Tooth Cavities are holes in your teeth caused by dental decay. These cavities start small and do not cause you pain in the beginning, but as they progressively increase in size they destruct your tooth from inside out and may get worse by the time it’s painful and you notice it.

How do cavities occur?

Yes, you guessed it right!! Cavities occur due to chocolates and sweets. However, cavities can be caused by any kind of sticky foods that bind to teeth surfaces and form plaque. When we eat or drink sugary substances, bacteria in the plaque break down the sugars to form acids. These acids in turn start destroying Enamel (which is the hardest layer on the outer surface of tooth). When enamel starts wearing off due to acids, the inner softer parts of the tooth get exposed to decay and causing pain. That is why we insist on brushing your teeth to keep the plaque layer and the acids away from your teeth surface. Anyone, right from a baby to old people, may get cavities. The risk factors include:

  • Those sugary foods(like candies, chocolates, sweets), and beverages that you love so much!

  • Poor maintenance of oral hygiene

  • Acid reflux due to gastrointestinal disorders

  • Dry mouth

  • Hereditary disposition

  • Lack of fluoride

  • Bedtime feeding of infants

  • Frequent snacking

Symptoms of dental cavities

Sometimes cavities in our teeth may be overlooked due to lack of any pain. These are the signs to look out for that may indicate presence of dental cavities:

  • Sensitivity in your teeth to hot or cold foods or beverages

  • Blackish discoloration in your tooth

  • Food getting stuck inside your tooth

  • Visible hole on the surface

  • Pain or swelling


When and how to treat dental cavities

Since it is not possible for you to peek inside your tooth closely yourself, dental cavities may often go unnoticed. Once they have progressed, a large chunk of your tooth would have decayed which is not reversible. Regular dental visits can help discover these cavities at their initial stage and it’s best to get them treated before they cause you any pain and suffering. If you have sensitivity or problems like food accumulation in your teeth, you could see a dentist to find out if you have cavities. Apart from doing an oral check-up your dentist may perform an X-ray to locate cavities. Various treatments for dental cavities that your dentist may recommend are:

  • Dental Filling: If the cavity is in initial stages and there is no pain, then your dentist will perform a tooth-colored filling, which will fill the cavity and restore its previous shape and form.

  • Root Canal treatment: This treatment may be needed if the decay reaches the innermost pulp. It may require multiple appointments and performed under local anesthesia.

  • Crowns: They are custom-fitted cap which are placed to protect a tooth after extensive decay or root canal treatment.

  • Fluoride Application: Fluorides are good for your teeth and may reverse dental cavities if detected at initial stages. Hence your dentist may professionally apply fluoride gel on your teeth to protect your teeth from further decay.


Preventing Dental Cavities

Prevention is always better than cure. Hence you must try to prevent Dental cavities by doing the following:

  • Brushing your teeth twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste.

  • Flossing and use of mouthwashes

  • Restrict intake of sugary and acidic foods

  • Limit in-between meals snacking

  • Visit your dentist for regular check-ups




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