Cavities 101: What You Should Know About This Oral Health Issue

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Did you know that more than 40% of children entering kindergarten suffer from dental cavities? While we all know that we should avoid this common oral health issue, few of us know what they actually are or what they can do to your teeth. If you’re one of the many people who want to learn more about cavities, read on to discover how this common condition can be avoided.

Cavities: What are they?

Cavities are a common form of tooth decay in children and adults alike. This occurs in your tooth’s enamel which is the protective outer layer of your tooth. When this enamel weakens and softens due to bacteria, plaque, and other acids, the tooth enamel breaks down. If left untreated, the enamel will break down completely, creating a hole in the tooth. This hole is referred to as a dental cavity.

Unless you seek the help of a licensed dentist, this hole can grow larger and larger. Some cavities can even expose the roots of your teeth, resulting in immense amounts of pain when you perform simple tasks, like eating and drinking. In particularly severe conditions, the whole tooth may become overrun with decay. It’s not uncommon for these teeth to get pulled before they promote decay or bacteria buildup in other areas of your mouth.

What causes cavities in the first place?

Cavities are often the result of poor oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly is essential in combatting harmful plaque buildup on your teeth and along your gumline. Unfortunately, this plaque occurs naturally when you eat and drink throughout the day so it’s important to scrub away this bacteria regularly. Otherwise, you may experience cavities, gum diseases, tartar buildup, and other ill health effects over time.

Plaque forms when the natural bacteria, acids, and saliva in your mouth interact. This creates an acidic plaque that dissolves your enamel and can even wear down your dentin. Sticky and starchy foods can increase your risk of developing cavities since these foods stick to your teeth for longer periods of time. This gives the bacteria in your mouth ample time to produce acid and wear down your enamel.

Luckily, this plaque is easily removed through proper oral health habits. This includes brushing your teeth regularly, flossing often, and visiting your family dentists twice per year for a checkup.

Will I get cavities?

While cavities are often thought of as a children’s condition, anyone is can get cavities.

Children have a reputation for this condition because they don’t have the fine motor skills necessary to brush and floss properly. On top of that, a child with a serious sweet tooth is more likely to eat sugars and starches that cling to their teeth, promoting more plaque growth.

But anyone can suffer the ill side effects of oral cavities. Those who eat plenty of sugar and starches are at an increased risk, but anyone who forgets to brush their teeth regularly may experience a cavity once or twice throughout their lifetime.

As you grow older, you also become more susceptible to cavities. In fact, they’re common in older people who have receding gumlines due to other health issues. Cavities are also increasingly common among older adults who experience cavities on the edges of their teeth fillings.

This is why it’s essential that you and your child or teenager visit a licensed dentist frequently for the necessary checkups and oral healthcare advice. Just like no two people are the same, no two mouths will benefit from the same advice. Talk to your licensed dentist to get a tailored procedure for maintaining your oral health.

What are the signs of a cavity?

You might have a cavity if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pressure around one tooth, especially when you bite down
  • Pain, also known as a toothache
  • Pits or holes in the affected tooth
  • Pus — in serious cases, a cavity can leak pus

If you or your child are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s vital that you visit trusted pediatric dentists for the best preventative care.

When you’re looking for a quality licensed dentist, rely on the Gainesville pediatric dentistry group you can trust: with the help of Smilez Pediatric, you never need to worry about your oral health or need expensive cosmetic dental surgery down the line. Contact us today for more information on cavities, tooth decay, and more.