A Beginner’s Guide to Cavities: Causes, Signs, and Treatment

A Beginner’s Guide to Cavities: Causes, Signs, and Treatment

Mar 23, 2023

Your teeth are powerful and durable enough to withstand the daily torture of chewing and grinding foods for an entire lifetime. However, sometimes your tooth can get damaged due to various reasons, such as erosion due to bacterial and acidic attacks, dental injuries, and advanced gum disease.

Tooth decay and cavities are some of dentistry’s most common dental problems. This article explains what cavities are, what causes them, how to prevent them, how to treat them, and much more.

What are cavities?

A cavity is a hole or pit that forms in your tooth. Cavities form when bacteria erode the tooth enamel to cause decay. It permanently damages parts of the tooth, causing holes or pits.

Usually, a cavity progresses slowly, often beginning with white, brown, or dark spots that turn into tiny holes. When left unchecked, decay penetrates the tooth, causing deeper cavities and holes, eventually leading to tooth loss.

How do cavities form?

Cavities primarily form due to acid attacks caused by bacteria and plaque. When you don’t brush and floss properly, it encourages the harmful bacteria to grow and multiply. These bacteria mix with your saliva and other debris to form plaque (a thin transparent film of bacteria). If not cleaned, more plaque accumulates around the teeth and gum line and can harden to form tartar, a hard deposit that only professional cleaning can fix.

If not cleaned, these bacterial deposits release toxic acids that erode your teeth’ enamel to cause decay and cavities. The acids also irritate the gums, causing gum inflammation and infections. That’s why brushing and flossing are essential to keep your teeth plaque-free and prevent cavities.

Signs of Cavities

Are you concerned that you might have a cavity? Visit our dentist in Westport, CT, if you have the following symptoms:

  • Sensitivity in the gums and teeth: You might have a cavity if you notice a sharp pain when you eat or drink something hot, cold, or sugary. That’s an indication that decay has progressed past the enamel.
  • Teeth pain when chewing or biting down: Feeling pain when chewing or touching a specific tooth may indicate that your tooth has decayed.
  • Persistent tooth pain. Ongoing mild to severe pain often indicates tooth decay or cavity. In most cases, the decay might have reached the pulp, exposing the tooth’s nerves.
  • Holes or pits in the tooth: Once decay has damaged certain parts of your teeth, they leave visible holes in the tooth. Cavities can develop on the teeth’ chewing surfaces, sides, or front or back.
  • Teeth stains: If you’ve noticed white, brown, or black spots on your tooth, chances are that cavities are beginning to form on the tooth.
  • Bad breath: If you brush and floss well and still experience bad breath, you may have tooth decay or gum disease. You must visit your dentist to determine the cause and get a suitable treatment.
  • Dental abscess: A painful pus-filled pimple, especially around a painful tooth, often indicates severe tooth decay. It’s essential to seek immediate treatment to prevent the infection from spreading.
  • Gum and facial swelling: Severe tooth decay can expose the tooth’s blood vessels, nerves, and other tissues, causing severe pain and swelling in the gums and face.

How are cavities treated?

Based on the stage of the cavity, your dentist can use the following treatments to treat your cavity and restore the health of your tooth:

  • Fluoride treatments
  • Dental bonding and veneers
  • Dental fillings and onlays
  • Root canal therapy
  • Tooth extraction
  • Dental crowns

How to Prevent Cavities

Use the tips below to minimize your risk of cavities:

  • Brush gently and thoroughly twice daily for 2 minutes at a time. Use a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily.
  • Get routine fluoride treatments.
  • Schedule routine dental checkups and cleanings.
  • Get dental sealants (especially for children).
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Avoid regular snacking.
  • Visit our dentist for complete oral exams in Westport, CT.
  • Limit or avoid hard, sugary, and acidic foods and beverages.

Are you looking for cavity treatment near you?

Do you have a cavity? Contact our dentist at Advanced Dental of Westport, CT, to book your appointment with our dentist near you.

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