A cavity, otherwise known as tooth decay, is a small hole that forms in your tooth over time due to acid-producing bacteria invading and breaking down the outer layer, or tooth enamel, that protects it.
What causes cavities?Foods that contain sugars—such as candy, carbonated drinks, etc.—results in plaque, or a film of bacteria. The bacteria thrive off of the sugar residue, and the byproduct is acid. When left on your teeth untreated, the acid eventually starts to wear on your tooth enamel, leading to a fully developed cavity.
How do dentists repair cavities?There are multiple ways a dentist may repair a cavity, depending on the severity of the problem.
- Fillings: After cleaning the infected area, dentists use a substance that “fills” in the cavity-affected tooth, sealing off the hole that has been created. The filling will also prevent any bacteria from infecting the inside of the affected tooth further.
- Crowns: If a tooth has decayed to the point that it will be unable to support a filling, your dentist may suggest a crown. A dental crown is like a “cap” that is placed over the affected tooth. Crowns can cover a filled tooth to further support the filling and tooth, and it can also restore a tooth if it has already been broken.
- Root Canal: Left untreated long enough, and a cavity can go as far as infecting the pulp, or innermost part of the tooth. For this, your dentist may recommend a root canal, which is a process that involves removing the infected pulp. Afterwards, your dentist will cover the affected area with a crown or filling after it has been cleaned properly. They may decide to wait until the remaining pulp has healed before this step, however.
How do I prevent cavities?There are many ways you can help prevent the development of cavities in your teeth.
- For one, practicing good hygienic dental habits is important. Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for a full two minutes twice a day.
- Make sure you also floss at least once a day or after meals. Floss can reach and clean the spots in-between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t get to.
- Drink plenty of water: the fluoride found in water can strengthen your teeth.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks if you can help it. If you have to indulge, make sure to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth immediately after consumption.
- Finally, visit your Toothworks dentist regularly for professional cleanings; at least twice a year!