Cavities, also known as caries, are one of the most common problems found in teeth—even in children and infants.According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), 18.6% of children between ages 5 and 18 have untreated dental cavities. For adults between ages 20-44, it’s 31.6%.
But did you ever stop to think about WHY we have cavities?
The answers are surprisingly simple. If you or your family discovers that you have cavities, then read on, because there is something you can do about them, and finding out why you have them is the first step in preventing them.
Cavities occur because of the bacteria found in everyone’s mouth. So really, we are all susceptible to developing cavities--it’s just that some people have more of them than others.When bacteria interacts with the food we eat, acid is created that, together with the saliva we all have in our mouths, forms plaque, which sticks to our teeth. The acid found in plaque deteriorates the tooth’s enamel, leaving tiny holes. If the plaque isn’t removed by brushing and flossing, these holes get bigger, causing more serious cavities.
Other factors combine with bacteria and plague to make cavities:
Poor brushing and flossing habits.
Sugary drinks and food.
Food particles left in the back teeth.
Formula from baby bottles left in infants’ mouths during sleep.
Cavities cause permanent damage to our teeth, and can become worse if not treated by a dentist. Untreated cavities can lead to:
- Loss of teeth
- Broken teeth
- Gum disease
SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE CAVITIES
Brown spots and deep pits aren’t the only indication you may have a cavity. If your teeth experience pain when you bite into something, or sensitivity to hot or cold drinks or food, this could be a sign that cavities are lurking in your mouth.
As a matter of fact, if you see brown spots and holes in your teeth, the damage is already underway, so pay attention to the early signs.White spots on the surface of your teeth are indications that cavities are just beginning.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT CAVITIES
There are several things you can do to help prevent cavities:
- Brush after every meal.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
- Use a mouth rinse.
- Use a dental sealant on your back teeth.
- Avoid sugary snacks and drinks as much as possible.
- Schedule regular dental checkups.
WHY SEEING A DENTIST IS CRUCIAL
A dentist can spot early signs of cavities before you can. This is why you should see a dentist regularly, to catch problems in the early stages. A dentist can advise you on the best course of action, which could be anything from filling a tooth to extracting a tooth, depending on the nature and severity of the cavities.