Tooth cavities, also known as dental caries, are prevalent in many adults. The presence of plaque can form a type of bacteria, which attacks and erodes tooth enamel. Left untreated, a cavity can destroy your tooth and kill the nerves at its center, which may result in an abscess, an area of infection at the root tip. Once an abscess forms, it can only be treated with a root canal, surgery or by extracting the tooth.
What Causes Tooth Cavities
Dental cavities are caused mainly by our oral health and habits. Tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) are left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth turns these carbohydrates into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities, or caries.
Tooth Cavity Symptoms
A dentist can identify dental cavities usually before you experience symptoms, so it is important to maintain regular dental check-ups. In advanced stages of tooth decay, you might experience a toothache especially after consuming sweet, hot, or cold foods or drinks. Other signs of tooth decay are visible pits or holes in the teeth.
Diagnodent – Early Cavity Detection
The Diagnodent is a device that is used for the early detection of dental caries, or tooth cavities. This hand held laser device can easily detect the smallest lesions, allowing us to offer the highest level of preventive care.
Treatment for Tooth Cavities
There are a number of different ways to treat cavities, and the method usually depends on the extent of decay in the tooth. If the decay is caught early, Dr. McCool will treat it with a dental filling. If the tooth decay is extensive and there is limited tooth structure remaining, Dr. McCool will use a crown.
How to Prevent a Tooth Cavity
- Brush at least twice a day and floss daily to remove plaque
- Have regular dental checkups – preventive care can help stop problems from occurring and keep minor problems from becoming major ones
- Eat a well-balanced diet that limits starchy or sugary foods
- Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste