Tooth decay, commonly know as cavities or dental caries can occur to anyone, especially in children and young adults. If left untreated, dental cavities become infected and lead to tooth loss.
What is tooth decay?
The process of tooth decay begins with bacteria in your mouth, which survives by feeding on the food particles in your mouth. The byproduct produced is an acid. Approximately 20 minutes later, the combination of food debris, bacteria, acid and saliva creates a filmy substance on your teeth called plaque. If the plaque is not removed timeously, tooth decay begins. Over time, plaque hardens and turns into tartar that eventually results gingivitis and periodontitis.
Plaque accumulation also affects the enamel on your teeth resulting in cavities. Although cavities are painless at first, if not treated, they can damage the sensitive nerves and delicate blood vessels within your tooth. If infections and abscesses develop, it may ultimately lead to tooth loss.
What Causes Tooth Decay and Cavities?
Carbohydrates, which are food rich in starch and sugars, are the main culprits of tooth decay and cavities. Sticky foods are also to blame as they adhere to the surface of your teeth stimulating bacterial activity.
Despite cavities being more common in younger people, adults are not immune. With age, individuals are more prone to gum disease. Gum disease reveals the roots of your teeth to plaque build-up that could potentially result in tooth decay and cavities. Furthermore, as fillings deteriorate allowing bacteria to accumulate, tooth decay is more prevalent.
When Do Cavities Need To Be Filled?
Generally, cavities are noticed when they are small during your regular dental check ups. In some cases, your dentist may be able to spot a cavity by using X-rays. Signs of cavities include increased sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet foods or drinks. When you do notice tooth sensitivity or pain, do not wait until your dental check up, visit your dentist as soon as you can.
If you do have a cavity, do not despair – it’s not the end of the world. Treatment options include fillings, crowns or undergoing a root canal procedure.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Dental experts recommend practicing good oral hygiene to effectively prevent tooth decay and dental problems associated with tooth decay. Brushing and flossing twice a day, and visiting your dentist every six months is paramount to good dental health.
Our dentists, Dr. Evelina Tolchinsky, DDS and Inna Trogan, DDS will be happy to provide you with more information and answer any questions you may have about preventing tooth decay and cavities. Our dentists have served the residents of Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Dumbo, and all of our other surrounding communities for years.
Our offices are located in the heart of beautiful Brooklyn Heights at 100 Pineapple Walk, Brooklyn, NY 11201