Understanding Dental Cavities

If you are experiencing tooth aches, it is probable that you have dental cavities. Before you go to a prothodontist for treatment, there are a few things you need to know regarding cavities. The following article takes you through the definition, causes and prevention of cavities.

What Are Dental Cavities?

These are holes that develop on the outer layers of your tooth. The outermost white surface of your tooth is called the enamel, whereas the yellow layer beneath the enamel is known as the dentin. Both of these layers protect the living tissue inside your tooth called the pulp. The pulp is where nerves and blood vessels reside. Cavities collect food and the pulp of the tooth that has been affected gets irritated by cold, hot, sour or sweet foods and bacterial toxins. When the pulp of your tooth is irritated, you will experience a tooth ache prompting you to rush to your prothodontist for treatment.

Causes Of Cavities

Cavities are caused by bacteria that reside in the mouth. When these bacteria consume simple sugars, they convert them to acid plaque. The acid plaque softens the hard layers of the dentin and enamel. The softened layers are dissolved by saliva, resulting in a hole/cavity in your tooth. If this cavity is not filled, it may cause damage to the pulp of your tooth. Pulp damage leads to pulp death, tooth abscess and infection. If your pulp is damaged, you will require tooth extraction or root canal treatment where your dying pulp will be replaced with an inert component.

How To Prevent Cavities

  • Nutritional counselling: Eat foods that have less simple sugar (table sugar or sucrose). This reduces the count of cavity causing bacteria in your mouth. Consume more calcium, vitamins A, C and D and phosphorus for strong and healthy enamel formation.
  • Oral hygiene: Brushing your teeth after every meal and flossing once a day will get rid of acid plaque forming on the surface of your tooth. Eat self-cleansing foods after every meal. These are foods such as apples and celery. You can also chew sugarless gum after every meal to help clean away debris and plaque.
  • Fluorides: Toothpastes with fluoride help to fill the pores of small early cavities. Fluoride is also crucial in strengthening your enamel and dentin. You can also drink fluoridated water or use a fluoride mouth rinse.
  • Sealants: These are plastic coatings that are painted on the pits of the chewing surfaces of your back teeth/molars. This procedure is performed by a dentist and is quite easy and painless. Sealants help to prevent cavities in cavity prone teeth.