Cavities are formed in the teeth after the protective enamel covering is eroded. These are tiny openings on the surface of the teeth. Damage to the teeth gets multiplied if there are cavities or dental caries. This dental problem is seen in children and adults alike. Cavities are usually seen on the top portion of the teeth where the dental enamel has exposed the inner layer of the teeth.
Easy treatment options are available for cavities and are routinely conducted in dental clinics. Dentists provide treatment procedures based on the requirement of the client. This is decided after a thorough dental consultation. Oral health of the person is taken into consideration and also the presence of other disease conditions like diabetes or any other chronic diseases.
Causes of Cavities
Cavities usually appear as white spots on the surface of the teeth. As mentioned earlier they are usually seen on the top portion of the teeth. The reason is cavities are formed when bacteria present in the mouth work on sugary food that is consumed. If there is less than perfect dental hygiene, then sugary food will remain stuck to the top portion of the teeth. Bacteria in the mouth move to this area and attack the food debris. They release acid and this will work on the dental enamel.
The enamel is a hard covering of the teeth. Below this level, there is the dentine region and then the inner pulp of the teeth. This area has the nerve endings and is the inner most level of the teeth. When cavities are left untreated, the damage moves to the interior of the teeth and the whole teeth are lost. The gum lining also gets swollen and irritated due to the infection. The teeth along with the root is damaged due to this plaque attack.
Risk factors for cavities
It is also important to know what are the risk factors that speed up cavity formation. The main reason for cavity formation is sugary food. Besides this milk, soda, candy, mints etc. can also speed up cavity formation. This food stay longer on the teeth or rather they stick to the teeth for a longer period of time. If a person consumes a lot of sugary and junk food then they are at a higher risk for cavities.
The teeth that usually have cavities are usually teeth at the back of the mouth. These teeth have more grooves or pits when compared with the front teeth. These grooves will be a good place for sugary food to stick to the teeth. Babies usually consume food such as milk or juices and the food will stick to these teeth similar to the adults who consume larger quantities of junk food. This will bring about decay for both children and adults alike.
Some people have a condition known as dry mouth. There is a reduced amount of saliva in the mouth when compared with other people. Usually saliva will act as a cleansing agent and washes away sugary food. Besides this, saliva also attacks the acid that is released by the bacteria. Eating disorders also contribute to this condition. Stomach acid will act on the teeth when there is repeated vomiting and erode the protective covering of the teeth.
Inadequate dental hygiene or brushing will also contribute to dental cavities. Brushing and flossing will help to remove the food debris that is stuck in the teeth. It is important to brush teeth twice a day particularly after meals. If it is not done properly, then plaque formation happens on the teeth after bacteria acts on the food particulars.
Symptoms and treatment
The different symptoms that are seen in those who have cavities are toothache, which is so normal that many will ignore it. Along with it comes tooth sensitivity. When a person consumes hot or cold food then there is irritation experienced along with slight pain. Pain is also noticed when chewing food, discolouration of the teeth is also seen. This is usually seen in cases when the decay has spread and cavities are in their advanced stage. The protective covering of the teeth is lost and the inner layer is more pronounced giving the teeth a darker shade. Brown or black stain can be noticed on the teeth. Some of the symptoms mentioned are common and might go away in a few days’ time, hence it is avoided mostly. And few may not have symptoms that are visibly felt. So to avoid that, it is recommended to go for routine dental check-ups.
For those who go for regular check-ups, the treatment can begin early. X-rays will help in finding out the exact issue with the teeth. Different treatment options are available when it’s quite early – the most common type is the fluoride treatments. Fluoride is generally found in tap water and tooth pastes. In this treatment, the amount of fluoride is higher, usually they are used in the form of gels or foam. The teeth are treated using these materials and help to contain the cavity formation.
When it has advanced, then dental crowns and fillings are chosen. Fillings are of different types. There are silver, gold, porcelain fillings available. The teeth are cleaned and based on the suitability of the material and personal choice of the patient the fillings are chosen. Dental crowns are placed as ‘crowns’ on the teeth. They cover the teeth that are affected and protect the teeth. The colour of these crowns is chosen to mimic that of the teeth similar to dental fillings.
Severe damage to the teeth would need a more detailed treatment option. Root canal treatment is performed in such a situation. The damage will have spread to the tooth root. The infected pulp is removed and is replaced with a filling. This treatment helps to save the teeth rather than removing it. But sometimes when the cavity formation is beyond control, then dentists will suggest removing it. This helps to save the overall dental health of the person.