How Do I Know If I Have a Cavity?

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How Do I Know If I Have a Cavity?

Have you been ignoring tooth pain or do you suffer from sensitivity to hot and cold foods in one or more teeth? If this describes you, chances are the pain won’t just go away. You may have a cavity, which is a serious dental issue you shouldn’t ignore. By having your dentist treat your cavity early, you can save yourself from more pain and expensive dental work down the road.
What is a Cavity?
Cavities, or dental caries, are the spaces inside a tooth that are created after tooth decay occurs. The hole in the tooth exposes sensitive nerve endings, which is why cavities hurt. The main cause of cavities is plaque: a sticky, clear bacterial film that forms on teeth. Daily brushing and flossing are essential to remove plaque, which combines with sugar to produce damaging acids that weaken and erode tooth enamel. Once the protective layer of enamel erodes, cavities can form much more easily.
Cavities are likely to form mainly in three places:
• On the main biting area of teeth
• Between the teeth
• Deep in the roots of teeth
Plaque easily accumulates in crevices and grooves of teeth. Proper brushing can eliminate plaque, but children are at higher risk of developing a cavity on tooth surfaces because they don’t always brush properly.
Cavities form between teeth because those areas are harder to reach with brushing alone. Flossing twice a day is effective in removing this kind of plaque buildup.
For older adults who have recessed gums or bone loss from a condition called periodontitis, plaque builds up over time and forms a cavity on the root of a tooth, which lacks protection from enamel.
How Can I Reduce My Chance of Getting a Cavity?
Practicing good, consistent oral hygiene is the key to avoiding painful cavities. Most dentists agree that brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste will help prevent cavities. Fluoride, a compound that is proven to strengthen teeth, is added to toothpaste, mouthwash, and many municipal water supplies.
Other important ways to avoid a cavity include:
• Limiting sugar intake
• Flossing regularly to remove plaque between the teeth
• Replacing your toothbrush every three months so that the bristles are working properly
• Scheduling regular dental appointments
How Often Should I See My Dentist?
Ideally, you should schedule a dental appointment every six months to keep your teeth in optimal health. During an exam, your dentist will check your teeth and gums visually to detect any problems and follow up with an X-ray to look for cavities that aren’t yet visible to the eye.
A hygienist will perform a thorough cleaning, which removes hardened plaque from all surfaces of the teeth and below the gum line. The cleaning procedure usually includes removal of surface stains on the teeth followed by a professional polishing. Children sometimes get an additional fluoride treatment or sealants, which further protect against cavities.


burakgokdeniz

Dentist, Specialist in Prosthodontics, DDS, PhD.

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