Cavities and tooth decay are the same thing. They are among the most common health problems in the world, affecting more than 90% of people. They are especially common in children, teens, and older adults. They start out looking like dark spots on your teeth or little holes. Unfortunately, they grow worse with time because they grow through the tooth enamel, which is hard, and once they get to the layer beneath (the dentin, which is softer), they expand swiftly. Cavities should be taken seriously and should be addressed as soon as possible. Here are 5 things you should know about tooth decay.
- Cavities are caused by bacteria. Food particles that remain in your mouth or between your teeth after your meals propitiate bacteria in your mouth. These then create acids that erode the minerals that protect the outer layer of your teeth. Bacteria are then able to reach the inside of your tooth. This erosion will continue until it reaches the nerve or pulp of your tooth, causing severe pain and swelling of the nerve.
- Damage caused by cavities is irreversible. The parts that are eaten away by bacteria cannot be healed. They only way to stop and restore the damage caused by a cavity is by having a dentist clean and seal the tooth through a filling or a crown.
- Cavities can lead to a root canal treatment or even an extraction. Once the damage has reached the nerve, you will experience pain and sensitivity. Once at this stage, there is no option but to get a root canal treatment in order to treat the pain. Also, some cavities are formed in a position or location in the tooth that make it unrestorable, for example when the cavity has developed sub gingivally (beneath the gum) or when more than ¾ of the tooth structure has been affected by the cavity. These cases will more than likely result in a tooth extraction.
- In general, cavities can be prevented, but there are factors that can make you more prone to have them. A good oral hygiene that includes daily brushing and flossing will prevent the formation of bacteria and decay. However, some people´s saliva is less acidic and can propitiate the growth of bacteria and the development of cavities. Factors like diet, the intake of medication, genetics, dry mouth and certain diseases like diabetes or gastrointestinal conditions can aggravate the predisposition to get cavities.
- There are foods that allow bacteria to flourish in your mouth. These are starchy foods and beverages rich in sugars. Make sure to brush your teeth specially well after consuming these to avoid the flourishing of bacteria from the remaining particles. Also remember that the healthier you eat, the healthier your mouth will be.
Even though the presence of cavities can not be altogether prevented for some people, attending to them promptly by visiting your dentist can prevent complications. The earlier a cavity is treated, the less damage it causes to your tooth. In a similar fashion, the smaller the damage to your teeth, the less money it will require to treat it. This is why visiting your dentist twice a year is so important and can save you thousands. We are the Costa Rica Dental Team, a dental office located in San Jose, Costa Rica. We receive hundreds of patients a year from all over the world to get extensive and preventive dental work at a fraction of the cost of US and Canadian dentists. We will be happy to help you in your dental needs. Contact us now for more information on how this works!