Dental cavities are holes on your teeth that result from acidic byproducts produced by harmful bacteria. Cavities never fix themselves, and they only get bigger if left untreated. If you suspect you have cavities on your teeth, visit your local dentist to have them evaluated and treated before your cavity turns into a toothache!
What causes cavities?
Cavities start off when you don’t clean your teeth and food particles attach themselves to your teeth surfaces. Next, harmful bacteria attach themselves to these food particles, creating what’s known as plaque. As bacteria process food particles, they produce acids that slowly dissolve away your tooth and create cavities on your teeth.
At what age am I at risk for cavities?
You can get cavities at any age. So long as you have teeth in your mouth, you’re at risk of developing cavities. Children, adults, and seniors can all develop cavities on their teeth:
- Children who eat sugars and don’t clean their teeth develop their first cavities on baby teeth. Since children start teething at around 6 months, you can have your first cavity when you’re not even one year old!
- Your adult teeth start coming out when you’re around 6 to 7 years old. If you’re not caring for your teeth, you can develop cavities on your adult teeth as soon as they erupt. Typically, childhood and college years are when you’re most susceptible to developing new cavities. After that, we spend the rest of our lives fixing and repairing these fillings as they break and get reinfected!
- Seniors aren’t as likely to develop new cavities, instead, they develop recurrent cavities around their existing restorations. Recurrent cavities appear underneath your old fillings and crowns. Fixing recurrent cavities typically requires crowns, root canals, or even dental implants.
Which teeth surfaces are more likely to develop cavities?
Cavities prefer deep groves on teeth surfaces since these areas trap more food particles and it’s easy for bacteria to accumulate in deep groves. However, cavities can form on any tooth surface imaginable. The most common location for cavities is on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth. Next most area is in between your teeth. This explains why it’s so important to brush and floss your teeth regularly. The only way to prevent food and bacteria from gathering on your teeth and causing cavities is by cleaning your teeth thoroughly every day.
What happens if you ignore your cavities?
Cavities start off on your outer tooth surface, where sugar and bacteria accumulate. From here, they work their way in towards your tooth nerve. If you neglect to fix your cavity, sooner or later it will reach your tooth nerve. Once this happens your tooth becomes infected which results in a toothache. The best way to avoid this is to fix your cavities in their earlier stages before they’ve had a chance to cause pain and infection. Small-to-medium sized cavities can easily be fixed with a dental filling. Once a cavity reaches your tooth nerve a filling is no longer an option. At this point you either need a root canal or tooth extraction.
How can I prevent cavities in the first place?
You have to take good care of your teeth and gums to prevent cavity formation. Here are the top 3 tips on how to prevent cavity formation on your teeth:
- Healthy diet – You must follow a healthy diet, especially one that limits processed sugars. It turns out that cavity bugs love sugars, particularly the sugar found in sweets, candies, and sodas. Therefore you should try and minimize your sugary intake. Get in the habit of rinsing or brushing your teeth after you eat sugary stuff.
- Brush & floss regularly – You should brush and floss your teeth thoroughly at least once a day. Otherwise food and plaque accumulates on your teeth and causes a cavity.
- Regular checkups & cleanings – Visiting your dentist regularly is a great way to make sure that your teeth are clean and cavity-free. Your dentist will check for cavities, clean your teeth, and review your oral hygiene habits. They may also recommend preventive treatments to help reduce the odds of developing cavities in the future.