Most American adults have had at least one cavity at some point in their life. In 2015, the Center for Disease Control estimated that 91% of Americans have had a cavity, and 27% of that estimate left their cavity untreated. Before we talk about how to avoid cavities, let’s understand what they are and what causes them.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities occur when the tooth enamel is destroyed and tooth decay sets in. There are a couple different kinds of cavities. The most common type is called the coronal cavity, which occurs in between your teeth or on chewing surfaces. Root cavities happen when we age and our gums recede, exposing your tooth’s root. When left untreated, cavities can lead to an abscess, an infection at the root tip that is treated by a root canal or a tooth extraction.
Causes of Cavities:
Symptoms of Cavities:
Cavities are caused when food particles are left in your mouth. When foods with carbohydrates and sugars stay on your teeth long after you’ve eaten, the bacteria in your mouth turns them into acids. This acid, combined with food debris, saliva, and bad bacteria in your mouth, creates plaque that destroys your teeth’s enamel. People often think of cavities as something that only affects children, but adults need to be just as careful at keeping their diet low in sugar, salt, and carbs for more reasons than keeping a trim waistline.
Though you may think it would be easy to detect a cavity, your dentist is often the only one who can see if you have a cavity because they develop beneath the surface of your teeth. At your regular cleanings, your dentist will examine your teeth to check for soft spots that could be indicative of a cavity, and take X-rays to look in between your teeth. You may be able to tell if you have a cavity if it’s been there for awhile and you develop a toothache or, if it’s particularly advanced, you could possible see holes or pits in your teeth.
How Do I Prevent Cavities?
The best way to prevent cavities is by practicing good oral hygiene and consuming a tooth-friendly diet!
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Wait 30 minutes after meals.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Use toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride.
- A healthy diet is also vital to the prevention of cavities, so make sure you’re staying away from starchy, sugary foods.
Regular cleanings and checkups are also incredibly important for preventing and detecting cavities. Call us today to plan your dental visit!Schedule Your Appointment