Studies have shown that about 92% of Americans have had some level of tooth decay. This high number makes treating tooth decay one of the most common dental procedures. However, spotting a cavity and knowing when to see your dentist may prove to be a confusing task. Learn more about cavities from your dentist at Comprehensive Dental Care in West Hartford, CT.
How does a cavity form?
Cavities begin as bacteria found on the teeth. Fed by foods high in starches and sugars, the bacteria grows into plaque, a sticky white residue. If not removed by flossing, the plaque hardens into tartar, which then continues to eat through the tooth’s layers, causing a cavity. Untreated tartar also causes gum disease like gingivitis. When the decay eats through to the tooth’s inner pulp chamber which houses the nerve and blood vessels, a toothache occurs.
How can I tell I have a cavity?
While the most tell-tale sign of a cavity is a hole in the tooth, there are warning signs which occur at earlier stages of tooth decay. Chalky white spots on the teeth are one of the first signs of decay. Decay-free teeth appear as a solid, translucent white color. Sensitivity, brown or black spots, a tooth breaking or chipping easily, and inflamed gums are also signs of a cavity.
How is a cavity treated?
If the decay has not yet reached the tooth’s inner pulp chamber, it is usually treated with a dental filling. Your West Hartford, CT dentist removes the decay, fills the hole left behind with composite resin materials, and reshapes the tooth’s biting surface to fit with the surrounding teeth. However, if the tooth’s nerve becomes infected by decay and requires a root canal, or if the filling is too large to support itself, a dental crown may become necessary to protect the tooth from further damage.
How can I keep my teeth decay-free between dental visits?
The best thing you can do for your oral health is commit to a strong at-home oral care routine. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle, circular motions. Floss between each tooth and behind your last molar at least once daily, using a separate strand of floss for each quarter of the mouth to cut down on the spread of bacteria. Patients with an average risk of tooth decay or gum disease should see their dentist at least twice a year for regular examinations and cleanings. These appointments provide the preventative care your mouth requires to remain healthy and clean.
For more information on cavities, please contact Dr. John W. Rosenlieb, DMD, Dr. Robert Alexander, DDS, Dr. Bruce M. Abel, DMD, and Dr. Joe Parets, DMD at Comprehensive Dental Care in West Hartford, CT. Call (860) 233-7514 to schedule your bi-annual dental examination and cleaning today!