common dental problems

Tooth Decay, Cavities And What You Need To Know About Them

In our last post we talked about the services provided at Emerald Dental Surgery Today, we would like to talk about one of the most common dental problems affecting people. That is cavities.

What Are Cavities?


Tooth decay is also known as cavities. It is a very common condition especially among children, teenagers and the elderly and refers to the permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of one’s teeth. They develop into tiny openings or holes.  Tooth decay is normally as a result of the combination between plaque and sugars or the starch found in the foods you eat.

Tooth decay can also be seen as the softening of your enamel and damage to the tooth structure. This means that your enamel will lose nutrients and when this happens and you go without treatment, a cavity or hole will form in the tooth. When left untreated, cavities could become larger and end up destroying the entire tooth.

In some cases, plaque could end up wearing away the next layer of your tooth, leading to a root cavity that could be painful because it means your nerves are exposed. You will have a problem eating or drinking in the event that you have this condition and it could even lead to teeth loss.

Causes Of Tooth Decay And Cavities?


Most of the time, tooth decay and cavities are attributed to excessive intake of sugary foods, sticky ones and beverages. These is because they facilitate more production of acid, which is harmful to one’s teeth. Did you know that for every time you eat sugary foods or snacks, you make yourself vulnerable to tooth decay from the acids for the next twenty minutes. Here are more causes of tooth decay:

Poor Oral hygiene

We are advised to brush our teeth regularly, failure to which, we become susceptible to plaque buildup that could end up attacking your teeth, thus causing tooth decay and cavities.

Dry mouth

Saliva goes a long way in helping you wash away the plaque from your teeth. A dry mouth creates an environment for faster buildup of plaque.

Bacteria and acids

Thinking about the fact that we have bacteria in our mouth is not very interesting but it is a fact regardless. The bacteria digests carbohydrates that are left on your teeth and this results in acid formation.

Medical Problems And Disorders

Certain medical conditions are linked to tooth decay due to the fact that they can cause the acid from your stomach to flow back into the mouth. Some conditions like bulimia also worsen your risk of getting a tooth cavity as it involves binge eating after which, the person purges in an attempt to make up for the uncontrollable eating. That means the food goes back to the mouth. Some types of cancers also contribute to tooth decay or cavities because they expose one to radiation around the head and neck area which in turn changes the saliva makeup. This will cause an increase in bacterial growth.


Constant snacking

When you get into the habit of eating many different meals whether small or big in a day, you will increase your chances of getting tooth decay or cavities. Some people who are on a weight loss journey are often advised to eat a number of times in between meals. This is because it helps them maintain the weight loss. However, whenever you eat or snack frequently, regardless of the type of food, the acid present in the food causes more damage.

Receding gums

If you have receding gums, plaque can end up forming easily near the roots of your teeth. Those parts are usually the ones that do not have protection from the enamel. They are as a result, more susceptible to cavities.

Feeding of infants

It is common practice to give babies bedtime bottles before they sleep. They usually contain formula or mostly milk to help the babies sleep better. Whatever they drink usually remains in their teeth for the many hours throughout which they sleep. The result is formation of a decay-causing bacteria that leads to what is often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay.

Inadequate Exposure to fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral that naturally occurs and prevents cavities. In fact, fluoride can reverse some effects of tooth damage if the damage is in its early stages. Failure to get this mineral in sufficient amounts could result in tooth decay.

Symptoms Of Tooth Decay Or Cavities

  • A toothache that seemingly starts without an apparent cause
  • Sensitivity of the tooth. You may experience pain either mild or sharp whenever you eat or take a drink that is either too hot or too cold or when you bite down your food
  • You might notice some holes in your teeth
  • You may notice some staining on your teeth

Treatment Of Cavities Or Tooth Decay


It is very important to visit your dentist regularly in order to avoid suffering the effects of cavities or tooth decay. These regular checkups detect the problems early and the sooner you seek dental care or treatment, the better for you because you will be able to reverse tooth decay early. The kind of treatment you receive for cavities is highly dependent on how severe your situation is. Examples of treatments include:

Fluoride treatment

In case you have a cavity on your tooth at its early stage, a fluoride treatment will help in reversing the condition. This professional fluoride treatment contains more fluoride than the amount you would normally find in tap water. The treatment may be in liquid or gel form.

Tooth fillings

They are sometimes referred to as restorations. Usually in cases where the decay has progressed, they are the most preferred option. The fillings used are usually made of different materials including, tooth-colored composite resins, porcelain, dental amalgam that is as a result of the combination of various materials.


In case your tooth has decayed extensively and has become weak, a crown may be necessary. In such a case, your dentist will drill away the decayed area as well as a good part of the rest of your tooth to make sure the fit is good. The crowns may be made of gold, high strength porcelain, porcelain that has been fused to metals, resin or other materials.

Root canals

When the decay or cavity has reached the pulp (inner part of the tooth), a root canal may be needed. For this particular treatment, the pulp is removed. Sometimes, medication is added to the root canal just in case there are any infections present on the root. A filling is then used to replace the pulp.

Tooth extraction

Sometimes, some people’s teeth become extremely damaged. In such severe cases, the tooth cannot be restored. The only option left is therefore tooth removal. So usually, when your tooth is removed, a gap remains that could cause your teeth to shift. So if possible, whenever your tooth is extracted, consider getting a dental implant to replace the tooth that you have just lost.

Prevention Of Tooth Decay


The good news is that you can actually avoid all these. Prevention is possible, for example, using a toothpaste that has fluoride to brush your teeth and doing it at least two times a day will to a great extent help you. Ideally, brush after every meal. While you are at it, remember to always floss.

Always rinse your mouth properly

It is very important to rinse your mouth. Sometimes, when your dentist feels like you are at a high risk of getting cavities, they might recommend that you use a mouth wash that has fluoride.

Make regular visits to your dentist

It is very important to get your teeth checked professionally on a regular basis. This will either help you avoid cavities or spot them early.


Consider getting dental sealants

Dental sealants are protective plastic coatings applied at the chewing surface of the back teeth. They are effective in sealing groove and crannies which have a tendency to collect food. So they give your enamel protection from plaque and acid. The best part is that they could last for several years without being replaced but regardless, they need regular checking.

Drink tap water

Most places with public water have some fluoride in them. This fluoride reduces one’s chances of getting tooth decay. It is for this reason that one shouldn’t only drink bottled water. You certainly don’t want to miss out on the fluoride that is beneficial to your body.

Eat foods that promote strong teeth

You should eat foods that increase the flow of saliva such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

In case you have any questions on tooth decay or in the event that you need treatment for the same, feel free to contact us . We will gladly take you through that entire process

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