Some people are frightened by the detection of cavities during a check-up. Make sure you receive praise instead of bad news!
How do cavities develop?
A cavity is the result of progressive decay of the tooth by acidic substances present in the mouth. These substances attack the tooth and form holes in the hard, white layer that coats the tooth, called the enamel. This weakness is the first stage of tooth decay, which may then progress to the inner layer of the tooth, called “dentin”.
The consumption of acidic foods and drinks (fruit juice, soft drinks, and citrus, etc.), and sweets, can promote tooth decay. In fact, dental plaque bacteria (transparent film that sticks to the surface of the tooth) work to cause cavities. They feed on sugar contained in food particles and release acidic residue that can also damage the enamel.
The elimination of dental plaque is the determining factor in the prevention of cavities and gum disease.
What are the consequences of tooth decay?
Undetected and untreated tooth decay may evolve and cause symptoms such as:
- tooth pain
- hypersensitivity to cold, heat, pressure, or to sweet or acid substances
- unpleasant taste in the mouth
When a cavity progresses and reaches the nerve at the base of the tooth, an abscess can form. It’s best to seek prompt medical attention in the event of unusual symptoms and to have any suspicious dental lesions assessed in order to treat the cavity as soon as it appears.
It can only be detected with a dental exam. An X-ray may be necessary to spot a cavity located between the teeth or which is not visible during the dental exam.
How can cavities be avoided?
Good oral hygiene and a healthy lifestyle starting from early childhood and throughout a person’s lifetime are essential to maintain a sparkling smile. Here are a few tips:
- Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice a day, ideally after meals and before bedtime, using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Proper brushing should last about two to three minutes.
- Ask a dental health specialist to assess your brushing technique.
- Use a state-of-the-art electric toothbrush for more effective brushing and an incomparable feeling of cleanliness.
- Use a toothpaste with sodium fluoride.
- If your municipal water does not contain fluoride, speak to your dentist to determine if a supplement is recommended.
- Floss every day.
- Avoid eating too much sugar or acidic foods.
- Refrain from smoking.
- See your dentist regularly to get a professional cleaning and a complete dental exam.
Your oral health largely depends on the quality of care you give to your teeth and gums. The time and energy you put in is worth it, since you will use your teeth all your life!
Speak to your dental health specialist or pharmacist for additional information about oral health.