One of the major concerns among parents bringing their children to the dentist for the first time is cavities. Understanding what they are and how they form is an important part of avoiding cavities. Preventative dental care at Earwood Dentistry is another.
What is a cavity?
A dental cavity occurs when tooth decay has caused a hole in a tooth. Cavities form due to bacteria forming in the mouth, often caused by sugar and starch. Food and saliva mix with the bacteria to create a substance called plaque. If you have not brushed your teeth in a few hours, you may even feel some plaque in your mouth right now. If plaque remains on the teeth for several days, it begins to harden into a substance called tartar. The sugar becomes acid and begins to dissolve the tooth, creating a hole. This is a cavity.
Where are cavities most likely to form?
Cavities most commonly form in areas where plaque accumulates the most. Because the areas between the teeth are hard to brush, it is easy for plaque to form, and this is why it is important to floss each night. Cavities also develop near the gums.
Who is at the highest risk for cavities?
When it comes to age groups, children tend to be at the highest risk for cavities, and this is because children are not the most adept at brushing their teeth. Additionally, children are at higher risk if they do not drink water throughout the day and instead rely on sugary drinks for hydration.
What are the symptoms of cavities?
Each person will experience symptoms of cavities to varying degrees. Generally, one of the first signs that something is wrong is a deep sensitivity to foods and drinks that are either very hot, very cold, or very sweet. In some cases, the affected tooth will begin to ache incessantly.
In some cases, you will actually be able to see the cavity before you even go to the dentist. Cavities appear either brown or black on the tooth.
How do dentists treat cavities?
To treat a cavity, a dentist will typically restore the tooth by applying a filling. This filling is made of composite or silver amalgam, and the procedure typically involves drilling the cavity and replacing it with the material.
In some cases, a tooth is too badly damaged for a filling. In this case, the cavity is removed, and the tooth is then covered with a crown. Crowns typically blend in with the rest of the teeth, providing a natural appearance.
If the tooth is so affected by decay that the nerve has become damaged, the dentist will perform a root canal. If the tooth must be removed, an implant can be used to fill the space.
How can I prevent my child from getting cavities?
Preventing cavities, like anything else, is easier said than done. The easiest way to prevent cavities is to limit your intake of starches and sugars, but this can be quite difficult to convince your little ones to do. Avoid encouraging children to drink soft drinks and sugary juices.
Of course, the best thing to do is encourage your children to brush their teeth after every meal and to floss once a day. Make sure to stock up on toothpaste with fluoride. Mouthwash can also limit bacteria when used between meals.
You can also prevent cavities by ensuring that your child visits the dentist regularly. Most professionals recommend that you book an appointment once every six months for a cleaning and check-up. The earlier the dentist catches cavities, the easier treatment may be.
Do you still have questions about cavities and your child? Make an appointment to learn more. Contact us online or call (919) 847-8413