Are you one of those people who avoid going to the dentist until you’re in dire pain? Or maybe you don’t mind the dentist but you don’t want to over react to a little discomfort? But what if while you’re putting off a trip to the dentist, you have one quiet cavity left untreated?
How Does a Cavity Begin?
Cavities, also called dental carries, are holes or structural damage in your teeth. This is also referred to as tooth decay. Tooth decay is a common disorder, second only to the common cold, according to the National Library of Medicine.
A cavity develops like this:
- Normal bacteria in your mouth change sugar and starches into acids. The bacteria, acids, food particles and saliva combine to form plaque, which sticks to your teeth usually just above the gum line, within just 20 minutes after eating.
- If not removed, the plaque turns into tartar.
- Both plaque and tartar can irritate your gums, causing gingivitis or eventually periodontal disease. As we know from Periodontal Disease: Get the Facts and Avoid Gum Disease, (link) this can result in tooth loss.
- Or acids in plaque may damage your enamel, creating holes (or cavities) in your teeth.
- Even one cavity left untreated can lead to a tooth abscess (infection) or destruction of the inside of the tooth (pulp), ending in tooth loss by extraction.
- And, one missing tooth left untreated may end in a mouthful of missing teeth.
Or treated, one cavity can be repaired and do no more damage. Obviously, the earlier you detect and treat a cavity, the less damage it can do. Depending on how severe your cavity is, it may be treated with a filling, crown or root canal.
So you’ll know you have a cavity when you start feeling pain, right?
How Can You Detect a Cavity?
If you begin to have a toothache, call your dentist at The Happy Tooth immediately to schedule an appointment, because yes, you may have a cavity.
However, more often, cavities will not hurt at all. But when you put off your dental exam, and that cavity left untreated grows enough to affect your nerves or cause a tooth fracture, you will surely feel it!
So, you might have no symptoms of a cavity, or you might feel pain or achiness especially after hot, cold or sweet foods and drinks. You might also develop visible holes or pits in your teeth.
Luckily, you can take several steps to help prevent cavities, including:
- Brushing twice daily.
- Flossing at least once daily.
- Limiting your intake of sugars and starches (carbohydrates), as well as other sticky foods. Or at least eat stickier foods during meals, so they will mingle with other foods and be less likely to stick.
- Visit your dentist the recommended two times per year. He or she can detect any cavities early and remove the plaque that you can’t see or reach with a toothbrush.
Granted, some people’s teeth are simply more susceptible to cavities than others, like if your teeth have deeper crevices versus flatter crowns. But if you don’t take proper care of your teeth and get regular dental exams, you might end up with more than just one cavity left untreated, and a mouthful of trouble!
Count on your professionals at The Happy Tooth to keep you from encountering this cavity pitfall. If you need treatment, your dentist will take time to explain options and recommendations while answering all of your questions. We want your dental experience to be pain-free and pleasant, and your smile to be brighter than ever!