Did you or your child have one of the first-things books? You know, the scrapbook-type book that you can use to preserve first words, first steps, first teeth, and on and on forever? Dental cavities in Cooper City are so common among children due to sugary diets and the challenges of learning early dental hygiene, that there oughta be a page especially for first cavities! Common as they are, though, what do you really know about cavities — amongst children, teens and adults alike?
What are cavities?
It may seem unusual to think of cavities this way, but cavities are the result of an infection caused by bacteria that erodes the enamel and dentin layers of your teeth. Cavities don’t appear instantaneously, but are the result of ongoing tooth decay.
What causes tooth decay?
At any given time, your mouth is filled with 500 to 600 different species of bacteria totaling, according to one estimate, 20 billion microbes. As those bacteria break down food, food particles and sugary substances left on and around your teeth, they produce acids. The presence of those bacteria alone doesn’t cause cavities, but in certain environments, those bacteria produce so rapidly and to such an extent that the amount of acid produced can seriously damage your teeth? What creates the perfect environment for rampant bacteria production that can cause tooth decay and cavities? There are seven common risk factors:
- Poor oral hygiene that allows food, food particles, and sugars to accumulate in your mouth — especially highly starchy and sweet substances
- Abnormal bite that allows the same substances to accumulate in your mouth
- A vitamin-deficient diet
- Weak tooth enamel
- Hormonal and immune problems
- Injuries to your teeth
How do cavities develop?
We mentioned above that cavities don’t develop instantaneously, but that they are part of and a consequence of a tooth decay process caused by the presence and activity of bacteria. There are four stages in the development of cavities: demineralization that appears as a whitish area on your tooth; a superficial cavity that might present as sensitivity to heat and cold; an average cavity that penetrates through the enamel and into your dentin layer; and a deep cavity that penetrates almost entirely through the dentin toward the interior pulp of your tooth.
What are the symptoms of cavities?
Just how you will experience a cavity will depend on the location and extent of your tooth decay. At the demineralization stage, you may experience no symptoms at all. At that stage, your dentist in Cooper City may not even diagnose a cavity. As the cavity progresses, though, symptoms from this cluster of potential symptoms may emerge:
- Sensitivity to heat and cold
- Spikes of pain when you bite down on the affected tooth
- Spikes of pain when you poke at the affected area of the affected tooth
- Holes in your teeth that you can see
- Discolourations and stains on the surface of your teeth.
When a cavity is at the earliest stage called demineralization, it can be treated through a process called remineralization. Remineralization involves saturating the affected tooth with calcium and fluoride ions to strengthen the tooth and restore its mineral content. That remineralization process prevents the cavity from progressing further. If the cavity progresses through one or more of the subsequent stages, it can still be treated. To treat a cavity at subsequent stages, a dentist near you will provide you with a filling after removing any tooth decay. Removing that decay and filling the cavity with a filling will prevent the spread of tooth decay elsewhere in your tooth and jaw.
If you have any questions about the health of your teeth or any symptoms you are experiencing, contact a dentist near you to ensure you get the care you need.