At Luxe Dental Spa, we know that going to the dentist isn’t on the top of everyone's to-do list. For many people, going to the dentist to be an intimidating and scary experience. However, if you’re experiencing certain symptoms such as tooth pain, it can lead to a wide variety of problems that can have serious permanent consequences.
In this blog post, we will be discussing cavities and tooth decay. We will be looking at the symptoms, causes, and risk factors that these can bring. If you think you are experiencing symptoms of tooth decay or cavities, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can.
What are cavities and tooth decay?
Starting off, cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. Cavities can also be called tooth decay, the words can be used interchangeably, and we will be referring to both terms in this blog post. Cavities and tooth decay can be caused by a wide variety of things including bacteria in the mouth, frequent snacking, drinking sugary drinks, and not practicing good dental hygiene.
Tooth decay and cavities are among the world's most common dental health problems. They’re especially common in children, teenagers, and older adults. These age groups are stereotypically the targets, due to the fact that they may be the ones that are either neglecting their own dental health or having it ignored by others. However, anyone at any age can experience tooth decay and cavities.
If they’re not treated right away, they have the potential to get deeper and affect the lower levels of your teeth. This can lead to severe toothache, infection, and even tooth loss. Regular dental visits along with proper hygiene (regular brushing and flossing) are your best protection against decay and cavities.
The symptoms and signs of tooth decay and cavities may vary depending on their extent and location within the mouth. You may be experiencing symptoms such as:
- Toothache, or random sharp pains in the tooth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Pain when eating
- Pain with hot or cold environments or food temperatures
- Visible holes or pits in the tooth
- Brown, black, or white staining on the tooth
- Pain when biting down on something
What Causes Tooth Decay?
There are a number of things that can cause tooth decay. While it is a process that happens over time, your tooth decay may be caused by:
- Plaque Formation: Dental plaque is a clear sticky substance that coats your teeth like a film. It can come from eating sugary foods and starches, as well as not practicing proper hygiene. When the sugars and starches are not cleaned off your teeth, the bacteria begins to feed on them, which then forms the plaque. Plaque that stays on your teeth can begin to harden under or above your gum line into tartar. Tartar makes plaque even more difficult to remove and then creates a shield for bacteria.
- Plaque Attacks: The acids in plaque remove minerals in your tooth’s outer enamel. This is the first stage of a cavity. Once the areas of enamel are worn away, the bacteria and acid can reach the next layer of your tooth, called the dentin. This layer is softer than enamel and less resistant to acid. Dentin has small tubes that directly communicate with the nerves inside the tooth, and if they are exposed this can cause tooth sensitivity.
- Further Decay: As tooth decay develops, the bacteria and acid continue to make their way through the teeth, moving from one layer to another. They can make it down all the way to the inner tooth material or pulp that contains the nerves and blood vessels. Once the pulp becomes swollen and irritated from bacteria, there is no place for the swelling to expand, which can cause the nerves to become pressed which results in high levels of pain.
Cavities and tooth decay are so common that it can be easy to overlook them, especially if the tooth is a baby tooth that is going to fall out anyways. However, cavities and tooth decay can have serious and lasting complications, even for children who don’t have their permanent teeth yet. These complications can include:
- Tooth abscess
- Swelling or pus around the tooth
- Damage or broken teeth
- Chewing problems
- Positioning shifts of teeth after tooth loss
Once the cavities and decay becomes even more severe, you may experience the following:
- Pain interfering with your daily life
- Weight loss or nutrition problems from lack of eating due to painful or difficult eating or chewing
- Tooth loss, which may affect your confidence and self-esteem
- Larger tooth abscess, pockets of pus caused by a bacterial infection, that can even lead to life-threatening infections
What Can I Do To Prevent It?
While everyone with teeth can be a victim of tooth decay and cavities, there are certain factors that can increase a person's risk. These factors are as follows:
- Tooth Location
- Sugary Foods and Drinks
- Frequent Snacking or Sipping
- Bedtime Infant Feeding
- Poor Brushing
- Not Enough Fluoride
- Dry Mouth
- Worn Fillings or Dental Devices
- Eating Disorders
If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms, call your dentist and schedule an appointment immediately. If you’re in the Oakhurst area, call Luxe Dental Spa. We are devoted to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of your smile by using state-of-the-art procedures. We provide a professional yet positive experience that makes going to the dentist less of a chore. Click here to schedule an appointment with us or contact us here. We look forward to seeing your beautiful smile!