What is a cavity?
Cavities are a kind of hole that develops when a tooth decays or breaks down. When left untreated the hole may get bigger and deeper. The most common reasons for cavities are sugary foods and a lack of brushing.
There are a few types of cavities:
- Coronal cavities – Coronal cavities usually are located on chewing surfaces or between the teeth.
- Root cavities- As we age, our gums recede, leaving parts of the tooth root exposed. Since there is no enamel covering tooth roots, these exposed areas easily decay.
- Recurrent decay- Areas like existing fillings and crowns may have a tendency to accumulate plaque, which can ultimately lead to decay.
Cavities are very common among children but, adults are also at risk if they suffer from dry mouth, a condition due to a lack of saliva. Dry mouth may be caused by illness, medications, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Your dentist will carefully examine your teeth and may take X-rays. If your dentist discovers a cavity, he or she can repair it for you by first removing the rotted part of your tooth with a special drill. The dentist then fills the hole in your tooth with a special material. The result is called a filling.
Tips for cavity prevention
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste or after every meal.
- Floss your teeth once a day to remove plaque and food that’s stuck between your teeth and below the gum line.
- Visit your dentist for regular check-ups. This will help prevent cavities from forming, or catch them when they’re small.
- Eat a well-balanced, nutritional diet that limits starchy or sugary foods.
- Eat chewy, sticky foods (such as dried fruit or candy) as part of a meal rather than as a snack.
- Dental sealants can prevent some cavities. Sealants are thin plastic-like coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars. This coating prevents the accumulation of plaque in the deep grooves on these vulnerable surfaces.