The detection of cavities during a check-up can frighten some people. Ensure that you receive praise instead of bad news!
How do cavities develop?
A cavity is the result of progressive decay of the tooth by acid substances in the mouth. These substances attack the tooth and form holes in the hard, white layer that coats the tooth, called “enamel”. This weakness is the first step of tooth decay, which may then progress to the inner layer of the tooth, called “dentin”.
Taking in acidic foods, drinks (fruit juice, soft drinks, and citrus), and sweets, may promote tooth decay. In fact, dental plaque bacteria (transparent film that sticks to the tooth’s surface) works to cause cavities. It feeds on sugar contained in food particles and releases acid residue that can also damage 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 may form. It’s better to seek medical attention quickly to have any suspicious dental lesions evaluated if unusual symptoms appear, in order to treat the cavity as soon as it is detected.
A cavity 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 every meal and before bed using a toothbrush with soft bristles. Proper brushing should last about two to three minutes.
Ask a health professional to evaluate your brushing technique.
Use a state of the art electric toothbrush for more effective brushing and for an incomparable feeling of cleanliness.
Use a toothpaste with sodium fluoride.
If your municipal water does not contain fluoride, talk to your dentist to determine if a supplement is recommended.
Floss every day.
Avoid eating too much sugar or acidic foods.
Abstain from smoking.
Examine your teeth and mouth regularly to quickly detect any problems.
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 of your life!
Speak to your dental health specialist or pharmacist for additional information about oral health.