What are cavities?

What are cavities?

Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth hard tissue. Tooth decay is heavily influenced by our lifestyle – what we eat, how we take care of our teeth, the fluoride in drinking water and toothpaste used. Heredity plays a role in susceptibility of caries formation.

While cavities are generally more common among children, adults are also at risk. Cavities are several types:

  • Coronal cavities – the most common type, in both children and adults, usually located on chewing surfaces or between the teeth
  • Root cavities – as we age, gums recede, leaving exposed the tooth root. The root is not covered by enamel is easily decay
  • Recurrent tooth decay – are forming around existing fillings and crowns. These are areas with a tendency to accumulate plaque, which leads to decay

Adults are especially at risk for cavities if they suffer from dry mouth, a condition due to lack of saliva. Dry mouth can be caused by illness, medications, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and may be temporary (days to months) or permanent, depending on the question.

Cavities are very serious condition. Untreated tooth decay can destroy teeth and soft tissue inside them, causing an abscess, an infection in the root tip area. If an abscess forms, it can only be treated with a root canal, surgery or tooth extraction.

How do I know if I have cavities?

  • Only your dentist can tell for sure if you have cavities. This is because, often cavities develop below the surface of the tooth, which cannot be observed. When you eat foods that contain carbohydrates (sugars, starch), they feed on bacteria in plaque, producing acids that attack the tooth. In time the enamel is destroyed in depth, but the surface remains intact. After damaging a large part of enamel, its surface collapses, forming a cavity.
  • Cavities are most likely develop into slots of the occlusal surfaces of posterior teeth, the interdental space or under the gumline. Wherever they occur, the best way to detect and treat them before they get worse is to go to the dentist for routine examinations.

How can we prevent tooth decay?

  • By brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily use to remove plaque between the teeth and under the gumline
  • Routine dental examination. Preventive measures to prevent problems and minor problems from becoming major
  • A balanced diet low in sugars and starches. If you do eat foods containing sugars and starches, trying to do during meals and not between meals, to limit teeth exposure to acids produced by these
  • Use products enriched with fluoride, including fluoride toothpaste
  • Make sure that your children take a properly fluoride intake from drinking water. If your source of drinking water does not contain fluoride, your dentist or paediatrician may prescribe daily supplements of fluorine

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