ARE YOU AT HIGHER RISK FOR DEVELOPING CAVITIES?
You don't have to know exactly what a cavity is to know you don't want to get one. However, if] you're like most people in Austin, TX, you may not know enough about cavities to understand how important it is to treat them quickly or avoid them altogether if you can. In this article, you'll learn what cavities are, how they form, the different types of cavities, why some people are more likely to develop cavities, how cavities are treated, and how you can help prevent cavities. This may seem like a lot, but our team at Meadows Dental Care wants to make sure Austin, TX patients are armed with as much information as possible in their fight against cavities.
WHAT IS A CAVITY?
Simply put, a cavity is a small hole in your enamel. A cavity (also known as dental caries) is created when bacteria in your mouth turns into plaque. This plaque formation, if not cleaned away, will start to erode the hard enamel covering your tooth. This tooth decay needs to be treated before it reaches the interior pulp of your tooth and causes an infection. When you have a cavity, it may cause symptoms like a toothache, teeth that are sensitive to hot and cold, as well as pain whenever you chew. If you have any of these symptoms, schedule an oral health examination with your dentist in Austin, TX so they can find and treat the underlying problem.
TYPES OF DENTAL CAVITIES
Cavities can develop anywhere on your enamel. Depending on the location of a cavity, it could be classified as a pit and fissure, interproximal, or a root cavity.
- PIT AND FISSURE CARIES
Also known as coronal cavities, pit and fissure caries develop on the chewing surfaces in the tops of your molars and premolars. Pit and fissure cavities are the most common type of dental caries because the grooves and uneven surface make it easy for bacteria and plaque to get trapped and missed when you're brushing your teeth.
- INTERPROXIMAL CARIES
Interproximal caries, also known as smooth surface cavities, form on the sides of teeth and in between your teeth. More common in patients who do not floss regularly, cavities between your teeth often require more enamel to be removed than other types of cavities during treatment.
- ROOT CARIES
Also known as gumline cavities, root caries develop on the surface of your teeth near the gums. Typically found in patients with a receding gumline, root caries form on a weaker area of the tooth, which makes them more painful and they progress faster than other types of cavities.
PEOPLE AT GREATER RISK FOR CAVITIES
Everyone can get cavities, but there are some people who are more prone to getting cavities. Below are some of the factors that may increase your risk of cavities.
- RECEDING GUMLINE
The gums cover the sensitive roots of your teeth, so a high or receding gumline can make your teeth prone to root cavities. A receding gumline is also a sign of periodontal (gum) disease, which needs professional treatment.
- TOOTH SHAPE
Molars and premolars with deep grooves are more likely to get cavities. It's easy for debris, plaque, and bacteria to get caught in these pits. It's also more difficult to properly clean these deep grooves to remove the bacteria that causes pit and fissure cavities.
- HIGH SUGAR DIET
Sugary foods and drinks (like candy, soda, and juices) act as a fuel for the bacteria in your mouth leading to more cavities. While it's best to minimize or eliminate sugar and processed foods from your diet, you should at least brush your teeth or rinse your mouth after eating sugary snacks.
- POOR ORAL HYGIENE
If you're not taking good care of your teeth by brushing and flossing every day along with regular visits to your dentist, you're more likely to have cavities. Daily brushing and flossing helps to remove plaque and bacteria so they don't have the opportunity to turn into cavities.
- DRY MOUTH
Your natural saliva helps to wash away bacteria in your mouth. If you have chronic dry mouth from medication or other reasons, your mouth is producing less saliva leaving you at higher risk of developing cavities and other dental health problems.
Most cavities can be treated with a tooth-colored filling. After your dentist removes the decayed enamel, they will apply composite resin to protect and seal the tooth. For larger cavities, an inlay or onlay may be recommended. A customized restoration, an inlay or onlay is made based on the shape of the area being covered and then carefully adhered. If a tooth is weak from multiple cavities, your dentist may cover it with a custom-made crown. Without treatment, a cavity may spread to infect the interior pulp, which will require a root canal. The earlier a cavity is diagnosed and treated, the less damage it will do and the easier your treatment will be, so make sure you are getting oral health examinations with a dentist in Austin, TX at least once a year.
Like most people, you'd probably prefer to avoid getting a cavity altogether. There are various things you can do to protect your teeth from cavities, starting with brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Additionally, you should use mouthwash or rinse your mouth after eating. Tap water enhanced with fluoride (check to see if your city adds fluoride to your water) can help strengthen your enamel. Professional fluoride treatments are recommended to help children as well as adults who are prone to cavities. Dental sealants can also be applied to the molars and premolars to reduce the risk of pit and fissure cavities. Schedule professional cleanings twice a year with your dentist in Austin, TX so they can help you remove built-up plaque and tartar from your enamel before they turn into harmful cavities.
KEEP YOUR TEETH FREE OF CAVITIES
Now that you know everything you need to about cavities, you're better equipped to avoid getting them. If you're looking for a great dentist in Austin, TX who can help treat any current cavities and help you prevent future cavities, schedule an appointment at Meadows Dental Care. Our skilled team of dental professionals can help you and your family restore and enhance your oral health.