Cavities are permanently damaged areas of the hard surface of your teeth that develop into small gaps or holes. Cavities, also known as tooth decay or caries, are caused by a variety of factors such as bacteria in your mouth, frequent nibbling, consuming sugary drinks, and neglecting to properly clean your teeth.
Cavities and tooth decay are two of the most common health problems in the globe. They are most common in children, teenagers, and the elderly. Cavities, on the other hand, can affect anyone who has teeth, including newborns.
Cavities get larger and damage deeper layers of your teeth if they are not treated. They are capable of causing severe dental discomfort, infection, and tooth loss. Regular dental appointments, as well as proper brushing and flossing routines, are your best defense against cavities and tooth decay.
Tooth decay often has no signs or symptoms until the decay is quite advanced. If you have tooth decay, you may notice:
- Black or brown spots on your teeth
- New sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- Toothache or tenderness if the decay is in a deep spot
- Gum infection (gingivitis)
Cavities and tooth decay are caused by a dental disease called dental caries (caries means "rot" in Latin). Dental caries is caused by bacteria that live in your mouth. When you eat sweets or starches, the bacteria digest these foods, producing acids as a byproduct. These acids attack and dissolve the hard surface of your teeth.
Risk Factors For Cavities/Tooth Decay
Risk factors for cavities and tooth decay include:
Age. The risk of developing cavities and tooth decay varies from person to person. Children and teens have more cavities than adults because the bacteria that cause cavities flourish in the warm, wet conditions inside their mouths. Older adults are at risk because their mouths are drier than those of younger people, and saliva production decreases with age. Saliva helps clean excess food and bacteria from your mouth, so less saliva means lower protection against cavities.
Poor Oral Hygiene. Tooth decay is more common in people who don't practice good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing.
Diabetes. If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of dental disease, especially if you don't control your blood sugar levels.
Medications. People who take certain medications, including birth control pills, steroids, diabetes medications, and antipsychotic drugs, have an increased risk of developing cavities.
Nutrition. Consuming many sugary and starchy foods, especially between meals, can encourage the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. Drinking a lot of sugary soda and juice may also raise your risk.
Cultural factors. Whether you're Latino or African-American, your risk of dental caries is strongly linked to your cultural habits, mainly the frequency of snacking, the amount of time you spend eating, and the amount of time you allow to pass between meals before brushing and flossing your teeth.
Prevention of Cavities/Tooth Decay
To prevent cavities and tooth decay, it's essential to practice good oral hygiene habits, including:
- Brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Flossing daily.
- Visiting your dentist regularly for a checkup and cleaning.
- Limiting intake of sugary and starchy foods to meals.
- Limiting the use of any sipping drinks, such as sports drinks and sugary sodas.
- Quitting smoking.
If you have a cavity or tooth decay, see your dentist for treatment.
The best way to prevent cavities and tooth decay is good oral hygiene and a healthy diet. Good daily oral hygiene includes brushing after every meal and flossing every day. For most adults, the ADA recommends flossing once a day to reduce your risk of cavities.
If you are searching for a reputable yet affordable dentist in Waterford, MI, you do not have to look far. At Dental House MI, we will take care of your teeth as if it is ours. Call us now for an appointment!