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Home arrow Dentist Articles arrow What you Need to Know About Cavities (Print Ready)
What you Need to Know About Cavities (Print Ready)

One of the most common universal health problems are cavities. A cavity is decay in the tooth that can develop into a visible hole in the tooth.

When tooth decay first begins there may not be any obvious symptoms. As the decay becomes more severe it may manifest itself in the following symptoms. The most obvious sign of a cavity is a visible hole in your tooth. Other common symptoms include: tooth pain, pain when biting down and sensitivity when eating or drinking hot or cold items. In some cases, pus around the tooth can also be a symptom of severe decay.

Cavities are caused by bacteria. Your mouth is a natural reservoir of bacteria. When some of the bacteria interact with foods that contains sugars and starches, the bacteria may convert into acids. This acid and bacteria can form a fuzzy like substance known as plaque which forms on the teeth, particularly by the gum lines.

The acids in the plaque strike at the minerals in the enamel, the tooth's hard outer surface. This can cause the development of tiny holes in the enamel. Once the acid has made its way through the enamel it reaches the next layer of the tooth, called the dentin. Since the dentin is less resistant to acid, tooth decay often speeds up at this stage. As the tooth decay advances, it may move into the pulp of the tooth, where the tooth's blood vessels and nerves are located. This is what can cause the tooth pains and sensitivities which are common symptoms of cavities. Cavities most frequently occur in the back teeth, the molars and premolars this is because these teeth have a lot of grooves where food particles can get trapped in, as well as the fact that the back teeth are harder to keep clean than the front teeth.

There are many risk factors for developing cavities; some of the most common include not brushing after eating and drinking and eating food and drinks that contain fermentable carbohydrates, such as milk, table sugar, soda, breads, chips, cookies and even breathe mints.

There are also some risk factors which may appear less obvious. Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, for example, can also lead to tooth decay when stomach acids from vomiting, enter the mouth. Acid from heartburn and acid reflex disease can also cause stomach acids to wash over mouth eventually these acids erode at the enamel causing tooth decay.

Although cavities are very common, particularly among children, this does not mean that they are not a serious problem. In some cases, untreated tooth decay may lead to serious infections that may in some extreme cases, may even be life threatening.

There is a number of treatment options that your Houston dentist may chose, depending on the severity of the situation. In the beginning of the development as a cavity, fluoride treatment may be used to help the teeth repair themselves. If the decay becomes more severe, your Houston dentist may use fillings and crowns to repair the damage. In cases where the decay reaches the pulp of the tooth, a root canal may be needed.

There are ways to prevent cavities. The most obvious is to practice good and constant oral hygiene, such as brushing after eating and drinking, rinsing your mouth and eating food that are better for your teeth, such as cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables and sugar free gum. Regular visits to your Houston dentists are vital in order to help clean the teeth and detect early problems before they manifest into something more serious.

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