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Cavities/Tooth Decay: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Sep 21, 2022Dental Restoration, Oral health

Cavities/Tooth Decay Overview

Tooth cavities are permanently damaged areas on the surface of your teeth that turn into holes or openings. Cavities, also known as tooth decay or caries, are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria impacting your mouth, frequent snacking, drinking sugary drinks, and not maintaining your teeth clean.

Cavities and tooth decay are among the most typical health problems in the world. They’re particularly common in children and older adults, but people of all ages can get cavities.

If you don’t treat cavities, they go deep into the tissues of your teeth and can turn into severe conditions, such as toothache, an infection, and tooth loss. Appropriate dental hygiene and regular dental visits are the best ways of preventing cavities and tooth decay.

American Dental Association (ADA) has defined that a tooth has three layers.

  • Enamel: Enamel is named after the extremely hard outer layer that protects the inner layers of a tooth. Tooth enamel does not include living cells and is the hardest structure in the human body.
  • Dentin: The second layer of the tooth is the dentin. After the outer layer has been damaged, it may expose the dentin. Small tubes in the area of the dentin permit hot and cold food to stimulate the nerves of teeth. The stimulation of these nerves might cause tooth pain and sensitivity.
  • Pulp: The tooth pulp is the main element of a tooth, containing blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.

Tooth decay can affect teeth in different ways, eventually causing hurt to the teeth or abscessed pulps underneath them.

Cavity Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of a cavity depend on its size and location. Some cavities may not cause any symptoms at first, but as they grow larger, they can lead to discomfort, including:

  • An unexpected toothache or pain may occur.
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Painful sensations when you eat, sweet, hot, or cold things.
  • Holes or pits in your teeth
  • Black, white, or brown tooth stains
  • Pain when you bite down

Cavities can cause a lot of pain and damage to your teeth, so it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms. If you have any reason to believe that you might develop cavities, see your dentist as soon as possible.

Causes of tooth cavities

Plaque develops when harmful substances stick to a tooth. Plaque is a combination of:

  • bacteria
  • saliva
  • acid
  • food particles

Probably everyone has bacteria in their oral cavity. Eat or drink anything sweet, and the bacteria in your mouth convert sugar into acid that can damage your teeth to produce plaque. Brushing your teeth regularly is crucial for good oral health.

Plaque adheres to your teeth, and acid in plaque can wear down your to easily erode enamel. Healthy tooth enamel is a sturdy compound that helps fight off the tooth decay. As the tooth enamel softens, your likelihood of tooth decay increases.

People are each at risk for cavities, but some have a greater chance of developing these. Risk factors include:

  • Much of the food and drinks consumed are excessively sugary or acidic.
  • Poor oral hygiene, such as failing to brush thoroughly or floss daily, can cause bad breath.
  • Not getting enough fluoride
  • dry mouth
  • eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia
  • acid reflux disease, which has the potential to erode your teeth’s enamel, may lead to this condition.

Cavities appear more often in the back molars. These teeth are shaped in such a way that they get trapped in the grooves and spaces they develop, making it simpler for bacteria to flourish within them. It’s also more difficult to remove plaque in back teeth.

Treatments for tooth decay and cavities

There are a variety of ways to treat tooth decay and cavities. What treatment you receive will depend on how bad your issue is:

  • Fluoride treatments: If you have tooth decay, a fluoride treatment can assist the enamel to self-heal.
  • Inlay, Onlay or Crown: If the decayed part of the tooth is large, it may be necessary to replace the area with an inlay or onlay, or protect the tooth with a crown.
  • Fillings: If your dentist has diagnosed a cavity, your dentist will remove decayed tooth tissue and fill the spot with a filling material.
  • Root canal: A infection to the pulp (inside the tooth) causes damage to the tooth and may need to undergo a root canal. Your dentist will extract the pulp and clean the inside of the tooth and the root. After that, a temporary filling will be placed inside the tooth and you may need to return later to the dentist in order to get a permanent filling or crown (a cover).
  • Extraction (pulling the tooth): Your dentist may remove a tooth in the most severe circumstances. He or she will counsel you to get a dental bridge or a dental implant as a replacement. Otherwise, your neighboring teeth may migrate over time, changing the shape of your mouth.

Can tooth decay be prevented?

Various ways can be used to stop tooth decay.

  • Ensure that there is enough fluoride in your teeth.
    • Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste
    • Drinking tap water with fluoride. Most bottled water does not feature fluoride.
    • Using a fluoride mouth rinse
  • Follow the practice of brushing your teeth twice per day with a toothpaste containing fluoride and regularly flossing your teeth.
  • Make sensible food choices by instructing yourself that foods and drinks with a great deal of sugar and starch are best to be avoided. Eat healthy meals and snacks that are nutritious rather than indulging.
  • Avoid using tobacco products, such as smokeless tobacco. If necessary, consider quitting tobacco use.
  • See your dentist on a regular basis for regular checkups and cleanings.
  • Make sure that you get dental sealants on your children’s teeth. Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that prevent tooth decay in your youngster’s back teeth. Do it as early as possible before your youngsters might develop tooth decay.

The best way to avoid cavities and tooth decay is to practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss daily, and use mouthwash, amongst other means. You should also avoid sugary foods and drinks, as well as smoking. If you do develop cavities or tooth decay, the best way to treat them is to see your dentist for a professional cleaning and treatment.

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