When you go to the dentist, there is usually one thing that you are waiting to hear…that you don’t have any cavities. Sometimes you can have a cavity without being aware of it or feeling any pain, while at other times you may be alerted to the presence of a cavity by some discomfort. Read on to learn how to deal with cavities.
Signs and Symptoms of Cavities
If you have a cavity, particularly if the cavity is deep in the tooth, you may feel an increased sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods. If the cavity is small, you may not feel anything at all; the cavity might only be discovered during an exam by your dentist. This underlines the importance of routine trips to the dentist. When you get regular dental checkups, the dentist can find small cavities that aren’t causing any symptoms before they become large, painful cavities.
In some cases, you can see a cavity, especially if it is located on the front teeth. A cavity will look like a light or dark brown spot. When you go for a checkup, your dentist uses a sharp tool to feel your teeth. If you have a cavity, the decay causes the structure of the tooth to soften, and your dentist feels that softening in the tooth during the exam. Sometimes, cavities are located in between teeth. In this case, the cavity might only be detected by its appearance on an x-ray.
The best treatment for cavities is prevention. The mouth contains bacteria. This bacteria is naturally present in the mouth, and it can’t be eliminated. When we eat sugary foods, the sugar combines with the bacteria in the mouth, and cavities can form. The best way to prevent cavities is to minimize the amount of sugar and starch that you consume. In particular, limit your intake of sugary drinks, like soda and juice. Babies and toddlers whose teeth are just developing should not drink juice from bottle or drink juice at naptime. Instead, give milk, which strengthens the teeth, and do not allow children to take a bottle to bed with them.
Your dentist might suggest that your child’s teeth be treated with sealants to prevent cavities. Sealants are a type of plastic coating that prevent decay.
Adults can chew gum that contains xylitol after meals to prevent cavities. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that actually kills bacteria. You can also use mouthwash to help reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
Of course, brushing your teeth and using dental floss regularly is essential for preventing cavities. Be sure to brush and floss frequently.
If you have a shallow cavity, it can be treated with tooth remineralization. This process involves applying a substance that contains fluoride or calcium to strengthen the tooth.
Small cavities can be restored through a filling. If a bigger portion of the tooth is damaged, it can be restored by covering the tooth with a crown. However, if the nerve has been affected, a root canal may need to be performed. If there is too much damage to the tooth, it may need to be extracted. The tooth can then be replaced by a dental implant or bridge.
The best way to deal with cavities is to get regular dental checkups and take care of your teeth daily by brushing and flossing and watching what you eat and drink. To schedule an exam, contact the office of Dr. TJ Bolt. Dr. Bolt provides comprehensive dental services with a lifestyle approach. Call Dr. Bolt’s office today.