Dental cavities are a common dental concern that affects nearly one in four adults. Although cavities are small, they can cause a lot of damage. Without treatment, cavities can wreak havoc on your oral health. This is because cavities don’t stay confined in your tooth. At some point, the cavity will continue to burrow deep within your tooth.
Understanding the Culprit: What Are Cavities?
Cavities are tiny holes that form in your teeth. They occur when bacteria in your mouth feast on leftover food particles. They also produce acids that eat away at your tooth’s protective layer – the enamel. Without intervention, a cavity will go deeper into the tooth through the dentin. Once this occurs, the sensations of temperature and pressure have no barrier to your nerves within the pulp. As a result, you can experience severe pain.
Additionally, the cavity can continue to decay and spread to other teeth.
A Domino Effect: The Damage Unleashed
Now, you may wonder what is the big deal with cavities. They are just small pits, right? Wrong. The damage that cavities can do lies beyond the enamel.
Tooth Sensitivity: As cavities burrow deeper, they expose the nerves in your teeth. This can cause heightened sensitivity to hot, cold, or even sweet foods. That delightful ice cream might also turn into an agony-inducing experience. Even with special toothpaste, the pain from cavities can linger.
Pain and Discomfort: Once those nerves are under attack, you can expect some serious pain. A constant toothache isn’t just bothersome. It can interfere with your daily life, making it hard to focus on anything else.
Infections and Abscesses: If a cavity reaches the pulp, it opens the door for infections. Bacteria can set up camp, leading to an abscess. An abscess is a painful pocket of pus at the root of your tooth.
Weakening the Tooth: Cavities weaken your teeth from the inside out. You might also notice your teeth becoming brittle and prone to cracks, chips, or fractures.
Spread to Other Teeth: Cavities can spread to neighboring teeth. The bacteria responsible for cavities can be transferred through saliva. This also allows them to spread throughout your mouth.
Gum Disease: The damage isn’t restricted to teeth alone. Cavities can contribute to gum disease by creating pockets between your teeth and gums. As a result, this provides a space for harmful bacteria to thrive.
Prevention and Protection: Fighting Back Against Cavities
Luckily, you can prevent cavities from forming in the first place with the right methods.
The age-old advice still holds strong. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and don’t forget to floss. Floss reaches areas that your toothbrush can’t.
Your diet can impact your risk for tooth decay as well. Limit sugary and acidic foods, as they also feed the bacteria responsible for cavities. So, opt for tooth-friendly snacks like crunchy fruits and veggies.
Regular dental visits are essential. Your dentist can also catch cavities early–before they turn into major problems. Prevention is the name of the game! Visiting your dentist on a regular basis allows them to inspect your mouth for any dental concerns.