As the National Institutes of Health mention, cavities are the second-most common health disorder in the United States, after the common cold. Cavities are a very common problem worldwide. Every person old enough to have teeth, runs the risk of having cavities present themselves.
What Exactly Is a Cavity?
A cavity is a permanently damaged, decayed area on the surface of your tooth. Because an untreated cavity can continue to persist, it can eventually destroy your tooth altogether. Cavities are found most often in the molars, because bacteria finds itself trapped easily in their grooves. Molars are also the most difficult area of the mouth to clean properly, with regular toothbrushing and flossing.
How Do They Develop?
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that is constantly developing on your teeth. When you eat sugary food or beverages, the bacteria in plaque that produces acids will attack and destroy your tooth enamel.
Tooth decay is a term used in reference to this destructive process on your tooth enamel. And because plaque is so sticky, it keeps these acids around longer and influencing the integrity of your teeth. Cavities begin to form, and enamel is broken down slowly but surely, over time.
How To Tell if I Have a Cavity?
Unfortunately, at the beginning of a cavity’s formation, you probably won’t notice. Most of the time, a person is not aware that a cavity is forming. That’s why regular dental checkups and cleanings are so important: Dentists and hygienists, especially those here at Tempe Family Dentistry, are able to detect problems early and save you from future trouble.
As the area of decay increases, cavities make themselves known through a few unpleasant symptoms, such as toothaches; tooth sensitivity; staining of the teeth; and pain when biting down or drinking something sugary, hot or cold.
How Do Dentists Treat Cavities?
When your dentist discovers a cavity on your X-rays or during your exam, the next step is to stop decay. Cavities are normally treated with fillings, crowns and root canals.
Fillings. Your dentist removes the decayed portions of the tooth using a drill, and then fills the new, clean hole with a substance like porcelain or composite resin.
Crowns. A crown, often called a “cap”, is used if the decayed area is large enough to weaken the tooth. Large fillings are not very strong and are more likely to break, so crowns are placed over the remaining portion of the tooth. Crowns can be made of gold, or porcelain, and sometimes a combination of the two.
Root Canals. If the decay is so bad that the nerve in the tooth becomes impacted and dies, then the dead nerve and the pulp–blood vessel tissue–are removed. After removing the decay and the center of the tooth, the roots are filled with a sealing material, and a crown is usually fitted on top.
You Don’t Need To Ever Have One, If You Can Avoid It.
The good news about cavities is that you don’t need to have firsthand experience with them. Attending regular dental checkups and cleanings, brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and eating a well-balanced diet will drastically reduce your chances of experiencing a cavity. If you have questions or concerns about cavities, please don’t hesitate to call our office at 480-839-0330.