Tooth Decay and Cavity Symptoms
Tooth decay is common, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable. And like many dental-related problems, the severity of tooth decay can range from very minor to extensive. Fortunately, early detection means treatment can be simple. But what is tooth decay, and what options do we have to treat them? Let’s look at some of the most common questions we hear about tooth decay and cavity symptoms.
What Is A Cavity?
We have all been hearing about cavities since we were kids. But what are they? Cavities are holes in the enamel. They are caused when plaque collects on your teeth surfaces. Plaque is acidic, and over time those acids will wear away the enamel, causing holes. The acids, as well as other bacteria, continue to work their way into the surfaces of your teeth.
What Causes Cavities?
We know the cavity itself is caused by the acids in plaque. But it is important to understand that the plaque comes from the foods we eat. Sugars that are not properly removed from our teeth surfaces will cling to them. They begin to collect and become harder and harder to remove on your own. The plaque is fed by the bacteria in our mouths, and over time it begins to erode the enamel. The good news is, you can manage the plaque with a good diet and a consistent home care dental routine.
What are Cavity and Tooth Decay Symptoms?
While small cavities may not be painful, as they grow larger they will start to cause discomfort. Cavities can also be difficult to see, particularly if they are located between teeth. You may notice some sensitivity to heat or cold if you have a large cavity. You may also notice some pain while chewing or biting in a certain way, depending on which tooth is affected.
However, the most common symptom of a small cavity is no symptom at all. This is why regular dental care is so important. When we complete your exam, we look at each tooth, and we use special instruments to probe into tight spots to look for potentially problematic areas. We also rely on our x-rays to show us what we can’t see with our eyes.
What is the Treatment for Tooth Decay?
Small cavities are easier to treat—and it is a less invasive process for you, too. We use special tools to clean out the bacteria and then seal over the opening with tooth-colored composite material so additional bacteria can’t get back inside your tooth.
Bigger cavities are more difficult to fill. Furthermore, deep cavities can easily turn into root canals if the infection has gotten close to the nerve. While we will do what we can to avoid the nerve, the process of cleaning out the bacteria may result in getting so close to the nerve that you will experience continued discomfort even after all the bacteria is gone. Our x-rays help us determine whether a filling will suffice, or whether a root canal is the best option.
How Can I Prevent Cavities and Tooth Decay?
One big key to preventing decay and cavities is to get regular exams and cleanings. A healthy mouth is a happy mouth, and our biggest goal is to keep you healthy. Your preventative oral care does not just happen at our office twice per year, though. With a great home care routine, you will ensure great reports each time you come to our office. Brushing and flossing are critical to your overall oral health. If you are not a fan of flossing, consider buying a water flosser, like a Waterpik®. These devices do an excellent job of removing built-up food and bacteria in the places your toothbrush cannot reach.
Another key component to maintaining great oral health is your diet. Sugary foods and drinks feed the bacteria in your mouth. The relationship between our overall health and our oral health is an important one. Making better food choices will not only be better for your teeth but for your overall health. Make great food choices that include fresh vegetables and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Getting Great Care in Atlanta, GA
Dr. Dennis and her team at Peach Valley Dental are here to help you be as healthy as possible. Whether you have concerns about tooth decay and cavity symptoms, or you are looking for a new dentist in Atlanta, we are here to help. Call our office at 404-254-5196 to schedule a consultation or an exam and cleaning today!
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