what does a cavity look like? When you do not take care of your teeth properly and allow them to accumulate food inside its grooves, a bacterium named plaque tends to originate.
Its acidic nature gradually wears away the enamel that is present on the surface of your teeth. Therefore, you must brush your teeth every day in a proper manner, which might help to get rid of the plaque.
However, once allowed to grow it will eventually destroy the teeth causing a cavity.
When a cavity occurs, it forms a hole in the affected tooth. If left to grow it can destroy the whole teeth.
An untreated cavity can pose danger in your life as it leads to causing problems such as tooth abscess or an infection, which mixes with the blood. Areas that are more affected by cavity includes:
- Molars are always prone to having cavity since they are mostly used while chewing food and bits of it can stick on the groves of the teeth
- It may also arise between two teeth
- It can occur at the bottom of the teeth.
Small children often go through the problem of cavities since they do not clean their teeth properly. Adults too have the possibility of getting a cavity but not like children.
Now, how to tell if you have a cavity? What do cavities look like? To know them, go through the next sections.
What does a cavity look like?
Plaque is that thin sticky coating that forms in your mouth when any food debris is stuck between your teeth and is fed upon by the bacteria. When it forms on your gum line, it can cause severe gingivitis to develop.
Gingivitis or inflammation of the gum line is one of the primary reasons behind cavities and tooth decay. The early signs include part of the gum line where the bacteria are striving to become tender, and you may notice mild toothache.
These signs should not be ignored, as it may be your body warning you about an early onset of cavity development. Other signs may include the appearance of white spots on your tooth, which indicates your tooth is losing essential minerals. This process is known as demineralization.
To spot a cavity in your mouth you have to closely observe your teeth, which also requires you to have adequate knowledge about signs and symptoms to avoid unnecessary panic.
If you observe any whitish or chalky appearance on the enamel of your tooth, it is most probably a cavity. More severe cases may have a brown or blackish appearance.
It might also happen that you do not show any distinguishable signs, in that case, you need to visit a dentist and have an X-ray test, which will illuminate your problem.
To avoid all these troubles in the first place you should make an effort to stick to your regular six-month dental check-ups and take good care of your teeth.
How do you get cavities?
Cavities occur mainly due to decay in the teeth. This tooth decay is a complicated process and it takes years to occur. Let us have a detailed look at the procedure of tooth decay, which in turn is responsible for cavities.
- Formation of plaque: When we consume too much sugar or starch and do not clean our teeth regularly or properly, there are high chances of bacteria growing on the teeth.
These bacteria feed on the sugar or starch and gradually, they form the plaque, which is a clear white and sticky coating on our teeth. Now, as we do not clean the teeth properly, this plaque grows in size.
It becomes harder and forms a shield for the bacteria. With its increase in size and hardness, it becomes difficult to remove this plaque.
- Plaque attacks: The plaque formed on your teeth secretes different acids. These acids are corrosive and they destroy the minerals present in the outer part of the teeth that is the enamel.
When the minerals from the enamel are removed, tiny holes and openings are formed there. Now, through these tiny holes, the bacteria and the acids enter the second layer of the teeth, which is known as dentin.
Dentin is weaker than the enamel and it is not as resistant to acids as the enamel. Moreover, it is connected to the various sensitive nerves.
- Plaque attacks the inner layers of the teeth: Now, with the development of the tooth decay, the bacteria and the acid gradually enters the inner layers of the teeth, which is the pulp.
The pulp contains the blood vessels and sensitive nerves. Slowly, the pulp bulges as the bacteria attacks. However, there is not enough space for it to expand inside the tooth, and as a result, the nerves are suppressed.
This results in causing the pain and sometimes, the pain also extends to the tooth root and the bones.
How do I know if I have a cavity?
In the beginning, it is not always possible to detect a cavity. One has to be careful enough to realize the symptoms of cavities.
In this article, we will get to know some of the most common symptoms that tell you that you have to a cavity in your mouth:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold:
Sensitivity to hot and cold food is a common symptom that tells you that you might have a cavity in your mouth. The wearing of enamel causes to affect the dentin, which is the hard layer of tissue that exists beneath the gums.
Eventually when there is not enough enamel to protect the dentin, foods that are acidic or hot or cold directly attack the nerves and cells inside the teeth causing sensitivity.
- Tooth pain
toothache is counted among one of the most common symptoms of a cavity. The pain does not need to remain for days as it may come suddenly and vanish too.
You will feel the pain when you chew something or may also feel the pain while going to give a bite on some biscuit or so.
- Change in the color of your teeth
In the earlier stages of the infection, the teeth might have white spots but as the infection increases, the stain becomes darker. The change in color is quite prominent, as it becomes brown or black.
- A hole in the tooth
If allowed to grow the cavity will worsen up and you will end up getting a hole in your teeth.
The holes are quite visible and you can notice it whenever you stand in front of the mirror opening your mouth or can feel it with the help of your tongue.
Besides, some holes cannot be seen, especially those in between the teeth. However, you can feel the pain of it.
How to fix cavities?
A good oral health hygiene routine is enough to avoid this huge trouble and pain. Here are some tips you can follow to prevent cavity:
- Use fluoride-containing toothpaste to brush after eating or drinking. It is recommended by every dentist to brush your teeth at least twice a day and preferably once after every meal you consume.
For thorough cleaning in the pits and grooves of your teeth and between the gaps, try to floss or use a toothbrush with a flexible neck and angled bristles.
- Rinse your mouth at regular intervals. If your condition is severe and you have a high chance of developing a cavity your dentist will probably recommend a fluoride-containing mouth rinse.
- A regular dental check-up is a basic necessity. Professional aid and regular oral exams may help you spot the cavity in the early stage and prevent it.
- Consider using dental sealants. Sealants are a protective covering applied to the outer surface of the back teeth and are primarily made of plastic. It seals off depressions and corners that would have gathered food debris and shields tooth enamel against plaque and acid.
The Centres recommend sealants for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for all youngsters. Sealants are quite long-lasting and can be used for several years before replacement, although it requires regular checking.
- Drinking tap water. When it comes to drinking water, most people stick to bottled water, which does not contain fluoride, on doing so, they miss fluoride benefits. Public supply water contains added fluoride, which is very beneficial for the strengthening of the teeth.
- Avoid frequent beverages and snack consumption. Whenever you drink or eat anything other than water, you assist bacteria in your mouth to make acid, which in turn wrecks tooth enamel. Your teeth will be under constant attack by the bacteria if you keep on gulping down food throughout the day.
- Eating foods that are healthy for the teeth is recommended. Some foods are more beneficial for your teeth than others are. Avoid eating foods that get stuck in the grooves and pith of your, if you’re unable to do so then at least try to brush after having such foods.
Eating fresh fruits and raw vegetables help increase saliva flow. Consuming unsweetened coffee, tea, and sugar-free beverages is a great way to wash away food debris.
- Fluoride treatment can be a great way to avoid tooth decay. If you are having fluoride deficiency despite consuming fluoridated drinking water, then it is recommended to take periodic fluoride treatment.
If your case is severe, you may have to wear a custom tray over your teeth for the uninterrupted application of prescribed fluoride.
- Antibacterial treatment is also an efficient way to slow down your tooth decay. If you have some special physical condition that catalyzes your cavity, then your dentist will recommend you to go for antibacterial treatments or other alternatives to kill harmful bacteria in your mouth.
- If your condition is serious then a combination treatment will be prescribed. This combination treatment includes the above two treatments along with Chewing xylitol-based gum. This helps to curb down the cavity significantly.
Doctors Suggestion and Prohibition
- Usage of a soft-bristled toothbrush is highly recommended as the softness is good for the gums and it also helps to clean the food particles that remain under the gums
- Try to brush your teeth at least twice a day. It will be more helpful if someone tries to brush after every meal they take.
- If not more, try to floss at least once a day. It is very important to keep your gums healthy along with your teeth
- Avoid taking foods that have high sugar content or carbohydrates and start eating healthy food
- Try to change your brush once in 3 months
- Use a mouthwash or an extra-fluoride toothpaste
- Do not brush your teeth by putting excessive pressure or try to brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush as it can wear away the enamel. It can also damage your gums.
- Try not to open things with the help of your teeth. This can also damage your teeth and gums
- Do not hog on junk foods throughout the day. Try maintaining a healthy diet
- Try not to smoke too frequently
Jennifer, a paralegal by profession, is a 32-year old active woman, without any history of dental decay since her childhood. Moreover, she is an athlete and takes part in various marathons.
At the age of five years, she had three fillings in her primary teeth and after that; there has been no problem with her teeth. On 16 May 2011, when she visited her dentist, here CariScreen score was 5870 and she was having two risk factors.
She was consuming enough snacks and drinks two times a day. Her doctor told me that the high CariScreen score indicates that she may get tooth decay shortly and must decrease the intake of carbohydrates and sugars.
She said that she was preparing for another marathon and a high carbohydrate and protein diet was important for the improvement of her performance.
Her doctor advised her to use an antibacterial rinse that consisted of 0.2% sodium hypochlorite, xylitol, fluoride, and the solution is neutral.
She was also given a toothpaste with neutral pH, having sodium fluoride, and xylitol in it. She was asked to use them two times a day.
After two months, when she again visited the doctor, her diet was unchanged and her CariScreen score increased to 7762. The plaque formation was also increasing at an alarming rate but she decided to continue with the therapy for another three months.
After three months, when she revisited her doctor, her CariScreen score was 4736 and she had no signs of new decay. There was also no change in her diet.
Finally, after ten months of her first visit, the CariScreen score was 1544 and the plaque formation was reduced. The therapy has worked well for her.
Throughout the article, we have discussed the causes and symptoms of the oral cavity, what does a cavity look like, how to prevent cavities and various suggestions given by the doctors.
Cavities can also be treated at home. Many simple ways have been effective in the past in treating cavities.
- After having your meal, chewing a piece of sugar-free gum, comprising xylitol and phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP) can be very effective.
- Intake of Vitamin D such as yogurt and other dairy products reduces the chances of the cavity.
- Using fluoride toothpaste is one of the best ways to treat a dental cavity.
- Try reducing sugar consumption in your meals by maintaining a strict diet.
- There is a plant known as Licorice, and extracts from its roots can be very useful for treating this disease.
1) What kind of toothpaste and toothbrush should I consider using?
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a flexible neck. Hard ones can damage your gum line. While brushing, apply soft pressure for at least 2 minutes.
Do not use your toothbrush for a long time and remember to replace it every 3-4 months. In the case of toothpaste use fluoride-containing ones as it slows down tooth decay and strengthens your gum.
2) Is flossing a necessary step in regular dental routine?
Yes, it is very much necessary. Flossing is the best way to get rid of food debris stuck between your teeth and gum line. It also helps clear out plaque.
If you do not find flossing effective, try using an interdental brush as an alternative.
3) Is a mouthwash or rinse necessary in your daily dental cleaning routine?
Yes, it is an absolute necessity for cavity protection and sensitivity along with refreshment and fresh breath. You should include mouthwash or rinse in your dental routine but as an addition to floss and bushing and not as their replacement.
4) When should I start worrying about dental trouble?
If you have jaw pain, bleeding or swollen gums, tooth sensitivity, redness, or mouth sores, you should have an immediate dental check-up. Diagnosis of the cavity at an early stage can help prevent it efficiently.
5) Do teeth need fluoride?
Yes, fluoride is a key element to keep your teeth strong and prevent it from decay. American Dental Association also recommends fluoride toothpaste for brushing.
6) What do I need sealants for?
Sealants are long-lasting plastic teeth covers that are used as a protection against cavities. It helps to prevent the accumulation of food debris by guarding the natural pits and depression on the outer surface of your teeth.
7) Are sweets and ice harmful to the teeth?
Yes, Sweets and other sugar-containing foods and beverages are deleterious as they may adhere to your teeth surface and cause cavities. Ice can also be very painful to your teeth if you have acute tooth sensitivity.
8) How can I get rid of the stains and whiten my teeth?
There are several home remedies and products to whiten your teeth but neither is as effective as a dental office procedure. If you are thinking of doing it yourself then look for products with ADA seals. Remember not to use whitening products more than necessary as it may damage your teeth.
9) How frequently should I visit a dentist?
This answer solely depends on your risk level, current dental condition as well as your dental history. However, most dentists recommend a six-month dental check-up.
10) Is smoking harmful to teeth?
Yes, smoking has multiple negative effects including staining of your teeth and bad breath.
11) How do I know if I have a cavity?
If you feel a pricking sensation when you try to eat something sweet or cold and observe black brown or white spots on the surface of your tooth then you probably have a cavity.
12) What causes tooth sensitivity?
There can be several reasons behind this. Some of them are tooth decay, exposed roots, thinned enamel due to acidic food consumption, and teeth grinding.
what does a cavity look like:
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