Cavities, also called tooth decay, or caries are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of the teeth that develop into tiny openings, or holes. This is one of the world’s most common health problems. Tooth decay is caused by a variety of factors including bacteria in the mouth, frequent exposure to food and sugary drinks and not properly cleaning your teeth. Here are symptoms of cavities.
Symptoms of cavities
Unexplained pain while chewing or biting
Tooth decay is the most common cause of toothaches. If a toothache comes on suddenly and there’s no other change in your health, it may be due to cavities. It may also manifest as sudden, spontaneous pain even when you are not doing anything like chewing.
Unusual tooth sensitivity
Cavities cause sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks. Typically, this is experienced as a sharp pain that does not last long. As the cavity expands though, the sensitivity becomes more severe.
Consistent bad breath
Cavities are a breeding ground for bacteria with the holes easily hiding particles of food that creates a build-up of bacteria. Frequent or consistent bad breath is a symptom of a variety of dental problems including gum disease and periodontal disease. If you have a bad taste in your mouth accompanying the bad breath, that’s another key sign of tooth decay.
Changes in teeth colour can signal the presence or development of cavities. Dark spots or shadows are a sign of potential tooth decay. It can look like a stain in the grooves of the teeth and usually look brown or black. Yellow and white spots can signify that the tooth is weakening.
Visible hole or pit
In the beginning, cavities begin as discoloured spots on the teeth. When they get worse, they form a hole or a pit that may be visible to the naked eye. This is a clear sign of tooth decay.
The presence of pus is a key sign that you have cavities. By the time you notice pus surrounding the tooth, things have progressed too far, and you should see a doctor immediately.
How to prevent cavities
Brush properly and regularly
The mouth is home to billions of microbes. Tooth decay occurs when the bacteria form a sticky plaque on your teeth from the sugars in the food that you eat and drink. The plaque weakens the tooth enamel leading to cavities. Brushing regularly, at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste gets rid of bacteria and removes any plaque build-up thus protecting your tooth enamel.
It’s important to floss or clean between your teeth daily to remove any food debris that may get caught in your teeth when you eat. These food particles can lead to cavities.
Use a mouth rinse
Antimicrobial rinses have been clinically proven to reduce plaque making them a good addition to your dental routine to prevent cavities.
Proper nutrition plays a critical role in dental health. You should also cut back on sugary and acidic drinks, instead, drink more water. Things like sweets, syrups, cream, and sugary drinks stay in the saliva longer creating a breeding ground for bacteria. To counter this, you should rinse your mouth with water after drinking or eating sugary foods.
Smoking harms every organ in the body and the teeth are not exempted. It creates a fertile environment for bacteria build-up in the mouth. Smoking stains the teeth and can lead to gum disease and even oral cancer.
Chew sugarless gum
Chewing sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva in the mouth which helps prevent cavities.
Regular dental check-ups and consider sealants
Visit your dentist or dental hygienist for regular check-ups and cleaning. If you’re able to, you can get dental sealants. Dental sealants are a protective coating applied to the biting surfaces in the back of the teeth, shielding them from bacteria and plaque. This helps prevent cavities.
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