A cavity, according to Collins Essential English Dictionary, is a decayed area on a tooth.
How did I get a cavity?
Our mouths have bacteria which form plaque on our teeth. When the bacteria sticks to our teeth they create acid which can eat through the enamel of the tooth and make a hole. My dentist told me it takes about 24 hours for bacteria to start producing acid, so if you brush your teeth at least once a day, you will disturb the bacteria often enough to keep it under control.
Once the acid has eaten through the enamel, there’s no way you can stop the rapid invasion of the softer dentin under the enamel. If you catch the cavity at this stage, your dentist will be able to fix the tooth with a simple filling.
If the bacteria goes through the enamel and the dentin to the soft pulp, then your tooth will become infected and you’ll need a root canal. You really don’t want a root canal if you can help it, so if you notice a small pit in one of your teeth, get to your dentist quickly so he can repair it with a filling.
If you want an explanation of what a root canal is, click HERE to go to my article entitled “What is a Root Canal?”
How can the dentist fix a cavity?
If you need a filling, your dentist will need to do some drilling. He does this to shape the pit in your tooth so that it can be filled completely with no air holes for further decay to take place. He also drills to remove the decayed part of the tooth so there is no bacteria left to eat away at the dentin.
Sometimes cavities form between the teeth or in places we can’t see. It’s a good idea to have a dentist check your teeth every 6 months to be sure any new cavities are found. Your dentist will probably clean your teeth before they are checked and remove any build up of plaque that you didn’t get just by brushing your teeth. If you tell him one of your teeth has been giving you pain, you might have an x-ray taken to see what the problem is.
How can cavities be prevented?
When my son’s permanent teeth came in, his dentist recommended sealing his teeth to help prevent cavities on the chewing surfaces of his molars. He “painted” on a plastic coating to keep food and plaque from collecting in the grooves of his molars. The surface of his teeth are smoother and easier to keep clean and he has never had a cavity in a sealed tooth.
If you drink carbonated sodas, do not brush your teeth immediately after drinking one. The enamel on your teeth is softened by the drink and brushing will thin the enamel layer on your teeth. If you’re worried about this, you can rinse your mouth with water, chew on sugarless gum to produce saliva, or chew on a piece of hard cheese. Cheese neutralizes the acid in your mouth and the enamel rehardens.
The best way to prevent cavities is by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital http://brighamandwomens.staywellsolutionsonline.com/RelatedItems/1,4062