Symptoms & Treatment for Dental Cavities

Understanding Cavities: Signs, Treatments and Prevention

Cavities are a common oral health issue caused by bacteria and plaque buildup. They can lead to significant discomfort and potential complications if left untreated. 

What Are Cavities?

Cavities are areas of damage or holes in the teeth caused by the gradual breakdown of tooth structure. They occur due to a combination of factors, including bacteria in the mouth, sugar consumption and poor oral hygiene. When you consume sugary foods and drinks, the bacteria in your mouth convert the sugar into acid, which attacks the teeth's protective enamel. Over time, this process leads to the formation of cavities. 

Signs You Have a Cavity

Detecting cavities in their early stages is crucial for effective treatment. Small cavities often have no symptoms and can only be detected by x-rays.  As cavities grow larger they may become symptomatic. Look out for the following signs:

  • Tooth sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet stimuli
  • Pain or discomfort when biting down on food
  • Visible holes or dark spots on the teeth
  • Toothache or spontaneous pain

Treatments and Prevention for Cavities

Treatment options for cavities include the following: 

  • Dental fillings: One of the most common treatments involves removing the decayed portion of the tooth and filling the cavity with materials such as white-colored composite resin.
  • Root canal: If the cavity reaches the inner pulp of the tooth and causes an infection, a root canal procedure may be necessary to remove the infected tissue and save the tooth.
  • Dental crowns: In severe cases where a large portion of the tooth is affected, a dental crown may be placed to restore its structure and function.

It's best to prevent cavities from forming. Some prevention strategies include the following:

  • Brushing: Brushing your teeth at least twice daily using fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque and bacteria effectively.
  • Flossing: Clean between your teeth daily to remove plaque and food particles your toothbrush may miss.
  • Healthy diet: Limit consumption of sugary foods and drinks, as they contribute to plaque formation and tooth decay.
  • Regular dental checkups: Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and examinations to detect and treat cavities early on.
  • Fluoride treatment: Ask your dentist about fluoride treatments to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities.
  • Saliva stimulation: Chewing sugar-free gum stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize acids and remineralize teeth. 

Cavities are a prevalent oral health issue that can be prevented and treated effectively with proper dental care and hygiene. By being aware of the signs of cavities, practicing good oral hygiene habits and having regular dental checkups, you can maintain a healthy smile and prevent the progression of tooth decay. Prevention is key to maintaining optimal oral health and preserving your beautiful, permanent teeth.