CAVITIES & TOOTH DECAY

Cavities and Tooth Decay: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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Eating Sugar? No Papa! - Here's all you need to know about cavities and tooth decay. We have all experienced cavities or tooth decay at some point in time. Tooth decay is the softening of your tooth enamel caused by acids. These acids are created when plaque bacteria break down sugar in your mouth- the result? Tiny holes or damaged pockets in your teeth called dental caries or cavities. Oral cavities very common but they can be managed with dental treatments. They are even preventable- so one can learn to take good care of oral health before it turns into a painful tooth cavity. But before that, let us know what actually causes dental caries.

What Causes Cavities and Tooth Decay and Risk Factors

Tooth decay or oral cavities occur when foods containing carbohydrates become trapped between teeth and are not completely removed with brushing and flossing. The plaque bacteria generate acidic by-products that eat away at the tooth enamel, slowly creating holes in the teeth called cavities. Without treatment, these holes can grow larger over time and may even destroy the whole tooth. Here are some major causes of tooth decay:

  1. Sugary foods: Sugary, sticky foods and beverages are the leading causes of cavities and tooth decay. The more sugar consumed, the more acid, which gets produced leading to decay. Sugar combines with plaque to weaken the enamel leaving you vulnerable to tooth decay. Each time you eat a sugary snack, your teeth are vulnerable to damage from the acids for the next 20 minutes. It is important to understand the causes of tooth decay so you can learn the proper way to care for your teeth and care for your health.

  2. Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing twice a day, neglecting flossing, and not maintaining good dental care can lead to tooth decay and cavities. This is because poor oral hygiene leads to accumulation of bacteria in the mouth and formation of plaque on the surface of the teeth.

  3. Lack of fluoride: Fluoride is a mineral that is found in some tap water, toothpaste and mouthwashes. This mineral helps tp reverse tooth damage and prevent cavities.

  4. Dry mouth: Saliva has a cleansing effect in the mouth and washes away the bacteria present. Reduced saliva flow or dry mouth can lead to build-up of bacteria in the mouth and cause tooth decay and cavities easily.

  5. Underlying health conditions: Cavities can also be caused by underlying health conditions such as acid reflux disease which forces stomach acid to come up to the mouth and wears down the teeth. Tooth decay can also occur due to certain eating disorders such as bulimia in which the stomach acid can dissolve teeth enamel.

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Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Decay and Cavities

Here are some decayed tooth symptoms you should look out for:

  1. Toothache

  2. Tooth sensitivity

  3. Visible pits or holes in your pockets

  4. Possible white, brown, or black staining on the surface of the teeth

  5. Pain when drinking or eating something hot, cold, or sweet - ranging from mild to sharp

  6. Tooth pain while biting down

How Do You Treat and Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities?

If you are wondering how to remove cavity from teeth - the most immediate form of treatment is to see your dental professional and have the cavity filled. To help treat and prevent tooth decay and cavities certain measures can be taken to help strengthen your teeth:

  1. Avoid sugary foods and drinks: Sugar is one of the biggest culprits behind tooth decay and cavities. It actually feeds the bacteria in your mouth and causes the build-up of plaque on the surface of the teeth. If neglected, it can easily accelerate the damage of the teeth and cause cavities, among other tooth and gum diseases.

  2. Brush regularly with a fluoridated toothpaste: The use of products containing fluoride can help to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Fluoride flows into weak spots to help rebuild these areas before they can become cavities. It also helps prevent cavities by slowing the breakdown of enamel and speeding up the remineralization process. The new enamel that will form is harder and more resistant to acid. Make sure you brush twice daily for two whole minutes; and brush thoroughly but not too hard or you further risk damaging the enamel and hurting the gums.

  3. Use mouthwash: The bacteria present in the mouth is often the culprit when it comes to a lot of teeth and gum diseases. This mouth bacteria interacts with any tiny, leftover food particles and forms plaque, which if neglected can cause tooth decay and cavities, and later on can even harden and become tartar. So using a dental-recommended mouthwash can kill the mouth bacteria, essentially curbing the damage in its initial stages. But please note, this will not work in isolation, so it is as important to follow the other steps in your oral care routine.

  4. Make flossing a habit: Floss daily to help remove plaque and food particles from the spaces between your teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. This helps promote healthy teeth as well as healthy gums. Use plain, waxed floss strips that slide easily between the teeth to clean efficiently and don’t shred. Make sure you slide the floss strip till the gums to remove plaque but be gentle so as to not hurt the gums as well.

  5. Visit the dentist: This is an important step to treat and prevent cavities. The most common and effective treatment on tooth decay and cavities is a filling, which stops the cavity from growing any larger. So if you are experiencing any signs of tooth decay or a cavity, it is extremely important to see a dental professional immediately for treatment. Ideally, it is recommended to visit the dentist once in every six months for a dental check-up.

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How to Protect Your Children from Tooth Decay and Cavities

If you're a parent you know how difficult it can be to get your kids to brush their teeth. However, helping to prevent tooth decay and cavities in children’s teeth starts with teaching them proper brushing habits and helping to take care of their teeth from a young age. It is normal to want to protect your kids from cavities; you can follow these tips for the same:

  1. Have them use a fluoride toothpaste: Check with your dental professional to determine when you should begin using a fluoride toothpaste on your children. This will strengthen their enamel and prevent cavities and tooth decay.

  2. Visit their dentist every 6 months for a checkup: Dental visits are super important to protect your kids from cavities and other tooth and gum conditions. Take them to the dentist at least once every 6 months or so to make sure their teeth are healthy.

  3. Inculcate a habit of brushing twice a day: Be sure your child brushes for at least 2 minutes, twice a day. Ensure they pay extra attention to their back teeth, as that is where the most plaque buildup occurs. You can make brushing time fun by playing them Oral-B's ultimate brushing playlist for children.

  4. Teach them to floss: As soon as their teeth begin to touch, help them floss on a daily basis. Getting them in this habit early on will prevent tooth decay in the long run, even when they grow up and get permanent set of teeth.

When it comes to tooth decay and cavities, a healthier mouth starts with good brushing habits.

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How to Select the Right Electric Toothbrush for You

To prevent oral cavities and take good care of teeth, it is important to choose the right toothbrush for yourself, preferably electric. Here are some important features to look out for when choosing an electric toothbrush:

  1. Brushing timer

  2. Pressure sensor

  3. Likeability and price

Here is where Oral-B electric toothbrush comes in the picture. It comes with an in-built timer that helps you know how much time you should brush each area of your mouth. It also contains a pressure sensor that let you know if you are using too much force. Moreover, it is instantly likeable with attractive shape and packaging, and very affordable!

Learn more about why electric toothbrushes are better & the Learn more on how to select the right electric toothbrush >