Cavities or Dental Caries are common not only in children but also in adults of every age. Studies have found, 92% of US adults in the age group – 20 to 64 have had caries on their tooth. Damaged areas on the tooth that develop into a black spot and slowly into a tiny hole are called dental cavities or caries. There might be different reasons for developing tooth cavity, including – excessive sugary food or carbonated drink intake, not cleaning mouth after snacking, dry mouth, improper brushing and the list goes on. Caries might not have any notable symptom at first but slowly it bores into the enamel of the tooth, weakening the tooth over time.
Untreated caries can seriously damage a tooth, causing tooth decay and even tooth loss. Infection and pain are some of the common symptoms of dental caries. As the cavity start to reach the inner pulp of the tooth after corroding the enamel, tooth sensitivity might appear.
The good thing is, dental caries can be easily managed with in-time medical intervention, proper oral hygiene and dental care. For enamel caries that have not yet damaged the tooth, fluoride treatment can be effective. However, if the cavity is triggering toothache, it might have already reached a stage from where it cannot be recovered easily. In such cases, a crown or a root canal might be necessary. Tooth extraction might also be suggested in severe cases.
At Right Choice Dental Clinic we approach the problem with a thorough oral examination and depending on the extent of the dental cavity we suggest the best, long-term solution. We also suggest our patients on how to maintain proper oral hygiene which is the key to prevent dental caries at the first place.
What causes dental caries or cavities?
What will happen if a cavity is left untreated?
- Increased Growth - Leaving cavities alone will allow bacteria to penetrate deeper and deeper into the tooth, letting the cavity increase in size. Eventually, the cavity could grow large enough to crack the tooth. The bigger the cavity, the bigger the problems associated with it will be.
- Nerve Damage - Left untreated, it’s possible for a cavity to eventually reach your nerve, which would put you in serious pain. Once a cavity reaches a root, it will necessitate a much larger procedure, such as a root canal or an extraction.
- Infections - Sometimes, an untreated cavity could open up your body to an infection. Your doctor would have to prescribe an antibiotic medication to treat the infection. Dental infections are very serious and can cause your jaw to swell and become incredibly painful.
- Treating a small cavity is easy peasy lemon squeezy - it’s just a small dental filling to stop decay. But now we’ve seen that treating a larger cavity that’s grown in size can be much more complicated.
What is Cavities / Dental Caries?
What food causes dental caries?
Sugary food and drinks are one of the main causes of tooth decay. Acid is produced when the bacteria in your mouth break down the sugar. The acid dissolves the tooth surface, which is the first stage of tooth decay.
Some sugars occur naturally in food and drink, such as fruit, honey and milk. The naturally occurring sugar in dried fruit, such as raisins, dates and apricots, can also contribute to tooth decay. Other foods have sugar added to them by the manufacturer, which is sometimes called processed food.These may include:
- cakes and biscuits
- soft drinks such as cola as well as fruit juice
- sweets and chocolate
- flavoured milks and yoghurts
- sugary breakfast cereals and cereal bars
- fruit canned in syrup
- sauces and syrups, such as some pasta sauces, marinades and ketchup
How do they fix dental caries?
- Fluoride treatments. If your cavity just started, a fluoride treatment may help restore your tooth's enamel and can sometimes reverse a cavity in the very early stages. Professional fluoride treatments contain more fluoride than the amount found in tap water, toothpaste and mouth rinses. Fluoride treatments may be liquid, gel, foam or varnish that's brushed onto your teeth or placed in a small tray that fits over your teeth.
- Fillings. Fillings, also called restorations, are the main treatment option when decay has progressed beyond the earliest stage. Fillings are made of various materials, such as tooth-colored composite resins, porcelain or dental amalgam that is a combination of several materials.
- Crowns. For extensive decay or weakened teeth, you may need a crown — a custom-fitted covering that replaces your tooth's entire natural crown. Your dentist drills away all the decayed area and enough of the rest of your tooth to ensure a good fit. Crowns may be made of gold, high strength porcelain, resin, porcelain fused to metal or other materials.
- Root canals. When decay reaches the inner material of your tooth (pulp), you may need a root canal. This is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth instead of removing it. The diseased tooth pulp is removed. Medication is sometimes put into the root canal to clear any infection. Then the pulp is replaced with a filling.
- Tooth extractions. Some teeth become so severely decayed that they can't be restored and must be removed. Having a tooth pulled can leave a gap that allows your other teeth to shift. If possible, consider getting a bridge or a dental implant to replace the missing tooth.