Cavity and Tooth Decay
Cavity and Tooth Decay
Research of 2016 says that around 90% of the adults have had a cavity in the past and that research also showed that in the United States, 25% of the cavities are left untreated because most of them were not aware of the situation of their mouth. You should understand that if you are facing a similar situation, then it does not mean that it is your fault. The development of cavities can be a totally natural process and there are tons of other factors which play an important role in cavity development.
This does not stop here but another study revealed that every adult ranging from the ages of 20 to 64, has missed an average of 3.28 permanent teeth. This is a major problem that we often face. But fortunately, tooth decay is not very much common in kids and teenagers but mostly occurs in old age because the wear of tear of teeth and gums makes us more vulnerable to receive such problems.
There is no doubt that the health of our mouth is constantly being ignored and can even lead to some alarming situations. It should be acknowledged by people that the health of our mouth is as important as the rest of the body. If you are facing any problem related to the health of your mouth or you are here because of your curiosity, you should stick to this article till the end. In this article, we will be discussing what are cavities, the causes of cavities, what is tooth decay, causes of tooth decay, prevention from cavities, prevention from tooth decay, and much more.
What are cavities?
Cavities are sometimes referred to as tooth decays but in reality, both of these terms are different from each other in several aspects. Cavities can be defined as the eternally damaged area of your tooth or molar teeth which has some hollow part. You may think that your diet is affecting the health of your teeth but you would be amazed to know that even babies have a tendency to develop cavities. So, cavities can occur because of numerous reasons and we will discuss the causes of tooth cavities later in this article. The fact is enough to surprise most of you that cavities are among the most commonly faced health problem and that is why it is advised to take a check of your teeth daily or at least once a week.
It is very important to book a visit with your dentist if you find a cavity in your mouth and if not, then the cavity will grow and may become a reason for severe tooth or gum pain. Developing good hygiene and routine can help you in declining the chances of developing a cavity. Some of the most common symptoms of cavities are feeling sensitivity in the tooth, toothache, pain while eating hard foods, and opening your full mouth. You may develop an invisible cavity that you would not be able to see but if you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, then you should definitely visit your dentist immediately.
Cause of cavities
In this section, we are going to dive into the topic “Cause of cavities”. Following are the most common things which can cause a cavity in your mouth. Some of these causes are even a part of our daily life. So, try to avoid them as much as you can.
Poor oral hygiene can increase the amount of plaque in your mouth. Plaque is a sticky substance that attaches to our teeth and causes the development of cavities. Plaque generally consists of bacteria, food particles, and acid etcetera. We cannot stop the production of bacteria in our mouth neither we can completely get rid of food particles and acid. That is why cavities are a very common health problem. To decline the number of bacteria and food particles, following are regular oral hygiene is very important.
As we discussed earlier that cavities are not only the result of sugary food but there are tons of other causes of the development of cavities. Genetics is one of them. It would be a surprise for you that around 60% of the cavities are the result of genetic factors. If your body contains a gene G20A, you are five times more likely to get cavities from others.
Age is another common factor that plays role in the development of cavities. Old people are more likely to develop cavities than young people. A research proved that the risk of cavities increases after the age of 65. But you should not worry about it as age is just a number and you cannot stop aging. So, a better solution will be to visit your dentist now and then and also take care of your oral hygiene.
• Brushing too much:
You may familiar with a quote that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Although, brushing is very beneficial for the health of your teeth but crossing the limits will give you nothing but loss. Brushing your teeth once a day is normal and brushing twice a day is also acceptable but if you brush more than that, then your tendency of developing cavities will increase.
No doubt that most of the cavities are the result of your dietary habits. Eating or drinking things that contain sugar in large amounts can increase the production of acid in your mouth. The bacteria present in your mouth converts the sugars into acid and because of this acid, plaque starts to develop on your teeth. We already know that how dangerous plaque is for our teeth. This plaque causes the formation of cavities.
Prevention from cavities
You may be familiar with the proverb that prevention is better than cure. In this section, we are going to discuss some tips which you could try to prevent cavities.
• Brush your teeth:
Brushing your teeth on daily basis can hugely decline the chances of development of cavities. This is the first and most important thing you should consider doing even before visiting the dentist. Develop a habit of brushing your teeth twice a day and especially, do brush before going to bed.
• Visit your dentist after every 6 months:
Sometimes you could not see the cavity in your mouth but it is possible that the cavity is in a position where you cannot look. If you visit your dentist, he/she can observe the minor signs of the cavity and it will be treated immediately. In this way, your tooth will also not be damaged. So, if you want to prevent cavities, visit your dentist after every six months.
• Avoid sugary snacks:
As we have already discussed that when we eat sugary snacks, we direct the bacteria in our mouth to convert sugars into acid. This acid is very dangerous for the health of your teeth and demolishes the teeth enamel. Consider it as when you eat or drink something other than water, you are making your teeth vulnerable to cavities. So, it would be very helpful for our teeth if we stop eating sugary snacks from time to time.
• Use mouth wash:
We know that hygiene is most important when it comes to health. Keeping a good routine and hygiene can even save you from tons of diseases. The same case is with your teeth. So, you should use mouth wash at least once or twice a day to clean your mouth and get rid of harmful bacteria. Using mouth wash will not only decrease the chances of cavities but will also give fresh breath and will cure your gums. Adding mouth wash in your daily life is very beneficial in preventing cavities.
• Use dental sealants:
Dental sealant is a thin coating that covers your back teeth or molars. This coating protects the molars from food particles, germs, and harmful bacteria. In this way, the chances of cavity development decline because there will be no contact between acid and your molars. Using dental sealants can be a good decision as they are cheaper as compared to fillings and easily maintainable. Typically, dental sealants last for at least 5-10 years. Dental sealants can help you prevent cavities and you should consider them if you are concerned with the health of your teeth.
Cavities in kids
Even though the tendency to develop cavities increases with age and old people are more likely to get cavities but kids are also vulnerable to cavities. We already mentioned that even babies can sometimes have cavities. Cavities are more common in kids and toddlers as compared to older people and there are numerous reasons behind it. So, cavities in kids are not something to worry about and it is not a rare situation. Research in the United showed that around 60% of American kids under the age of 5 have had cavities. One of the most common reason behind this large figure is that kids below the age of 6 are not able to do brush accurately. Another factor that causes cavities in kids is that do not do floss after taking a meal and even if they do, they do it wrong. Flossing in the wrong can even lead to gum damage. So, parents should supervise and teach their kids about brushing and flossing.
How to cure the cavity?
We have discussed the preventions and the causes of the cavities but if you already have developed cavities, then there is no choice other than medical treatment. It is widely believed that cavities will go away on their own but in reality, this is just a myth and without any proper treatment, the situation will become worse and worse. Some common methods to treat cavities are mentioned below.
The filling is a process in which the dentist will remove the infected part of your tooth and after that, the empty space will be filled. This filling can be of gold, silver, or plastic depending on the preference of the patient. The filling is also used to treat broken tooth or any damaged area of your tooth. Typically, fillings last around 10 years but it totally depends on the type of filling. The most durable type of filling is cast gold filling which can even last for 15 years.
Generally, a root canal is not required and this method to treat cavities is only used when the cavity grows larger and touches the inner soft part of your tooth. This process includes the removal of the damaged soft part of the tooth and later, this space is filled with a filling. If your tooth is damaged severely by a cavity but you do not want to remove your tooth, then a root canal is the best option for you. A root canal is only used in severe cavity cases.
A crown is very much similar to dental sealants. Consider it as a protective layer around your tooth. When a tooth is damaged by a cavity, a crown is used to cover it. This process is very long as compared to others because this will require a customized crown suitable for the size of your tooth. Crowns also have different types depending upon the material used in their manufacturing. Gold, porcelain, and resin crowns are most commonly used.
Fluoride is the most basic treatment of cavities and is often used at the initial stages. Fluoride treatment is also effective in completely reversing the cavity but if the cavity is just started. Fluoride is a mineral that is very beneficial for our teeth. Fluoride treatment is a very simple treatment of the cavities and it can also be done at home. The process consists of gargling fluoride water and brushing your teeth with fluoride water. The water used during this treatment contains fluoride in large amounts.
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay is a condition in which the enamel is damaged resulting in the vulnerability of the tooth and the tooth is exposed to harmful bacteria and acids. Enamel is a thin and strong layer of mineralized tissues on your teeth that protects teeth from harmful substances. In fact, the enamel is the strongest tissue in the human body. The hardness and the thickness of enamel depend on the size and the type of tooth. Like cavities, the best way to prevent tooth decay is to follow good hygiene.
Although, cavity and tooth decay are different terms but tooth decay is one of the most common reasons for cavity as our teeth are already not enough strong to protect themselves from bacteria and acids, it becomes easy for a cavity to develop. Not only this but if you already have tooth decay and cavity, then the growth of the cavity will be very rapid because of the absence of enamel. Tooth decay will also make you more likely to chip your teeth.
In short, we can say that tooth decay is a more serious condition as compared to cavities because it can lead to some severe loss. Some symptoms of tooth decay are sensitivity, discoloration of the tooth, cracks on the tooth, and stains on the tooth. If you have observed these symptoms in your tooth, then it is time to visit your dentist.
Causes of tooth decay
There are various factors that cause tooth decay but here we are going to discuss some of the most common causes of tooth decay.
GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. It is very common and around 1 in every 5 adults in America have this disorder. It is also not very rare in children. GERD is a digestion disorder in which the acid of the food you eat and the stomach acid comes to your mouth. Because of this acid, the enamel will be damaged and it will lead to tooth decay.
This is the most common cause of tooth decay. Although enamel is the strongest tissue present in the human body long-term damages can still damage this thin coating. Similarly, some of us have a habit to intensely brush our teeth and in a rough manner. This happens mostly because of false knowledge sources. Often we hear that brushing our teeth for less than five minutes is not helpful and do not clean our teeth. It is completely wrong. If we brush our teeth for more than two minutes, it will damage the enamel layer resulting in tooth decay.
Like cavities, there is the possibility of having tooth decay because of genetics. In fact, most oral health disorders depend hugely on genetic factors. Having tooth decay multiple times means that the reason behind it is genetics. If your parents or grandparents have or had the same condition, then you should be more careful about this.
Consuming soft drinks and alcoholic beverages:
Have you heard this quote “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough”? Alcoholic beverages are very dangerous for our teeth and if we consume them in excessive amounts, they can also lead to tooth decay. Alcoholic drinks are very acidic in nature. The average pH of beer is 4.21 and wine is even more acidic than beer. When we drink these alcoholic drinks, it makes contact with our teeth and damages the enamel coating. The same case is with soft drinks. Surely, appropriate quantities will not affect the health of your teeth.
Bruxism means teeth grinding and jaw clenching. This is a common habit among us but we are not aware of the side effects it can cause but the main problem is that we do it subconsciously. Having too much stress can also make you grind your teeth while sleeping and you cannot even control it. There are so many drawbacks of bruxism like misalignment of teeth. Bruxism is a reason for tooth decay. Tooth grinding or bruxism can cause erosion or fracture of enamel.
Prevention from tooth decay
Now we know that tooth decay is very harmful and is a reason for various other conditions like cavities and tooth sensitivity. So, it is important to know that you can avoid tooth decay and what are the ways to prevent tooth decay.
It would not be wrong to say that making positive changes in your brushing habits can help you a lot in the matter of prevention from tooth decay. When we furiously brush our teeth, the natural coating becomes weak and sometimes breaks which causes tooth decay. Also, do not forget to brush. When we do not brush our teeth, it means that we leave our teeth exposed to acid. Although, brushing too much is not good for your teeth and can also lead to tooth decay but do brush at least twice a day.
Bruxism is a cause of tooth decay but why do we grind our teeth? Most of us have bruxism and this is because of higher stress levels. That is why we cannot stop grinding teeth even while sleeping. This does not mean that everyone does teeth grinding because of stress but most of us do. Reducing stress will be the most effective way to stop teeth grinding.
Avoid acidic foods and drinks:
Avoiding acidic food completely is not possible but you can try to stop eating highly acidic food for the health of your teeth. Some highly acidic foods are sugar, grains, fish, sodas, and protein supplements. The same applies in the case of drinks but you have an advantage. If you want to take an acidic drink, you may use a straw and try to keep the drink away from your teeth.
Use chewing gums:
Having low levels of saliva can also cause the erosion of enamel and to increase saliva production you should use chewing gums. Chewing gums can increase saliva production up to 10 times. Also, chewing gums having xylitol can decrease the amount of acid in our mouth. Try to choose sugar-free chewing gum.
Use fluoride toothpaste:
Fluoride is a very beneficial mineral and improves the health of our teeth. Fluoride is also present in most foods and also in the water. That is why fluoride is the main ingredient of every toothpaste. Using fluoride toothpaste will also help you in preventing tooth decay. You can easily find fluoride toothpaste in any market.
Difference between cavity and tooth decay
The two terms; cavity and tooth decay, are commonly considered as the same condition but in actual fact, cavity and tooth decay are completely different things and there is nothing common between them. As we already explained, a cavity is a damaged part of the tooth in a way that there is a small or large hole in the tooth. In the case of cavities, the damaged part of the tooth cannot recover on its own and there are no means to treat a large cavity naturally but a cavity in its initial stages can be treated by some natural methods like fluoride treatment and oil pulling etcetera.
On the other hand, tooth decay is a condition in which the enamel which is the natural coating over our teeth and protects our teeth from any kind of damage erodes. Enamel also protects our teeth from chipping and any kind of tooth breakage. Because of the erosion of enamel, our teeth become unguarded, and bacteria attack them which results in cavities. Tooth decay as compared to cavities is a more severe condition because it can lead to some other complications. In a nutshell, we can say that tooth decay can be a cause of the cavity but it is entirely wrong to say that tooth decay is the cavity.
We have discussed cavities and tooth decays in detail in this article. It is obvious that avoiding cavities and tooth decay is impossible and you should not even worry about them. Not worrying does not mean to leave them or believe in myths as they will recover on their own. Leaving these conditions untreated will give nothing but more pain and tooth damage. Also, if you will not get some medical treatment, the situation of your tooth will become severe and it will cost you more. If you have discovered any cavity or decay in your tooth or you are in doubt that you have cavity or decay, then you should visit your dentist as soon as possible.