The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported 24% of Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 have cavities needing treatment. Regular dental visits are among the best means of preventing cavities. A dentist may perform an examination and take X-rays to assess your oral health. Those who have not been visiting a dentist regularly are strongly encouraged to do so.
Understanding Tooth Decay
The tooth decay process involves damage that may occur on the exterior enamel or dentin layer inside the tooth. Decay may be the result of exposure to sugary and starchy foods including bread, fruits, and sweets. Our mouths are home to bacteria that eat sugar and produce acids that can be harmful.
What Are Cavities?
Permanently damaged teeth have an opening known as a cavity. These small holes are also commonly called caries. The formation of a dental cavity is one of the most common health-related problems. Cavities are very common among children, teenagers, and seniors.
Cavities tend to worsen when they remain untreated. The hole may penetrate deeper within the tooth. Over longer periods, a cavity may lead to symptoms such as pain, infection, or loss of the tooth. Cavities are among the main reasons why we should avoid sugar-filled foods and drinks.
Common Symptoms of Tooth Decay
The symptoms of a cavity may depend on factors including their location. Cavities may not have any signs when they are just beginning to develop. As the problem gets worse you can expect some of the following symptoms:
- An achy feeling in a tooth
- The tooth may become sensitive when exposed to heat, cold, and other things
- Cavities that have expanded may become visible
- You may notice stains in colors such as brown or black
Complications That May Develop
As is the case with most medical problems, cavities can develop and create other problems. A tooth abscess, which is severe inflammation, may occur. In many cases, pus may exist in the inflamed area. Many people will have problems properly chewing their food.
Maintaining a commitment to regular dental care is critical to prevent tooth decay. The best means of prevention is to use a broad approach. Some of the best practices are as follows:
- The teeth and gum areas should be brushed at least two times per day
- It is best to brush following each meal using a toothpaste containing fluoride
- Use dental floss to clean between your teeth
- A fluoride mouth rinse may also be used to help with cleaning between teeth
- Those experiencing cavities may consider mouthwash products that kill harmful bacteria
- Avoid sweets such as candies and soft drinks
- Limit consumption of carbohydrate-filled snacks such as pretzels and potato chips
- Your dentist may consider a special fluoride treatment that may help strengthen tooth enamel
- Your dentist may suggest a sealant product that prevents potential decay on the chewing surface
What is Plaque?
Dental plaque is a clear layer that can cover your teeth. It most commonly results from not cleaning the teeth after sugary food consumption. Plaque can cover the tooth and harden, making it more difficult to remove. This is most commonly in the area where the tooth meets the gum.
Plaque also contains acids that harm the minerals that protect the tooth’s exterior. Failing to have the problems treated can result in damage to the root of the tooth. Bacteria may develop in any cavities and spaces that develop between the tooth and gum.
Problems Resulting From Acid Reflux and Eating Disorders
Those who struggle from problems related to stomach acid are at a higher risk of tooth decay. This includes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) where stomach acid flows into the mouth and harms the teeth. The acid is particularly harmful when the tooth’s outside enamel has been worn away.
Those with eating disorders such as bulimia can also experience problems. The act of vomiting causes stomach acid to enter the mouth and come in contact with the teeth.
Choosing Water Instead of Other Beverages
Drinking plenty of water may help you in preventing oral health problems. Beverages that are filled with sugar and other ingredients tend to promote bacteria. Water helps to dilute any acids and other corrosive materials that harm the teeth.
Water also helps in possibly dislodging food and other particles that may accumulate. Public water today also typically contains fluoride, which makes your teeth stronger.
See Your Dentist Regularly
Early detection of tooth decay is much more likely when you have regular dental exams. Failing to consistently have a dental examination simply invites problems. During these visits, you will have a thorough cleaning that is a tremendous benefit. You deserve a smile that you are proud of!
Family Dental Care Practice in Mesa, Arizona
Are you currently experiencing pain or irritation in the area of the teeth and gums? Dental problems tend to get worse over time and should be treated quickly. East Valley Dental Professionals is a comprehensive provider of dental services for children, adults, and seniors. We encourage you to contact our office today at (480) 838-3033 for an appointment.