Cavities are considered any areas of teeth that have become permanently damaged over time. This will typically include the rotting and decaying of the tooth itself. Cavities can impact just about anyone regardless of age, including children. Understanding various facts about cavities can help you to mitigate and prevent cavities while incorporating healthy oral hygiene habits into your everyday life.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities are considered tooth decay and impact millions of children and adults from around the globe each year. One of the most astounding facts about cavities is that it is even possible for infants to develop cavities.
In most cases, cavities will begin to form due to a variety of factors. Some of the most prevalent factors often involved in developing cavities include a high-sugar diet, frequent snacking, a lack of brushing, and even a lack of flossing. Additionally, genetics may also play a vital role in the overall health of an individual’s teeth and gums, especially as they grow into adulthood.
Signs and Symptoms of a Tooth Cavity
Spotting the signs and symptoms of tooth decay or of a forming cavity is not always easy, especially if you are attempting to do so with young children, toddlers, or babies. When a tooth first began to decay, there may be little to no signs whatsoever to indicate a problem. This is why it is essential to spend time inspecting your teeth visually after brushing and flossing each day.
When inspecting your own teeth visually, look for potential signs of decay, such as rotting or even mild discoloration among any of your teeth. If you spot any discoloration, you may want to consider scheduling a dentist appointment for teeth whitening or for x-rays and further investigation.
A few of the most common signs and symptoms of a developing cavity in the mouth include:
- Pain: Pain is the number one indicator that there is trouble in your mouth, especially if you can feel that the pain is coming directly from a tooth. Your tooth may feel pain whenever you attempt to chew, talk, or even press your tongue up against it. Swelling, throbbing, and even bleeding may occur if there is a more serious underlying issue at bay.
- Increased sensitivity: It is not uncommon to experience an increase in tooth sensitivity with teeth that are decaying or developing into a cavity. This is extremely common and is a tell-tale sign that a tooth in your mouth may require additional work or attention. If you have a developing cavity in your mouth, you may also notice an increase in sensitivity whenever you are eating or drinking something that is extremely cold or hot.
- Visible holes in teeth: If you notice sunken areas of your teeth, holes, or even deep pits in the center of your teeth, these are all tell-tale signs of a cavity. Once the tooth begins rotting away, it is no longer capable of protecting you from potential bacteria and buildup inside of the mouth. If you notice pits or holes inside of any of your teeth, it is best to speak to a dentist right away. In some cases, crowns and replacement teeth are available as well as dental surgery options, depending on the teeth in your mouth that require attention.
- Staining and discoloration: This is another common indicator that it is time to have your teeth looked at by a professional. Staining and discoloration of teeth can be caused by consuming beverages such as coffee regularly, but it is more often an indicator that there is rotting or decaying of a particular tooth, which may lead to a complete cavity.
Tips on How to Prevent Cavities From Forming
One of the most exciting facts about cavities is that they can be prevented with regular ongoing oral hygiene. While it is not always possible for those with preexisting conditions or other genetic factors to prevent cavities or weakened teeth, there are a few ways to mitigate the potential for cavities with proper oral hygiene and the right diet.
When it comes to facts about cavities, here are a few tips on preventing cavities from forming at any time:
- Brush and floss regularly: It is advisable to brush at least two to three times each day. If possible, brushing after each meal is best. Flossing multiple times each day is also recommended. Flossing helps prevent the buildup of bacteria and food in the mouth, which are leading contributors to the development of cavities.
- Avoid snacking: Avoiding the temptation to snack throughout your day is another way to mitigate the potential for cavities to form. If you do choose to snack, opt to go to health food stores to find the right snacks. Additionally, spend time brushing your teeth even after you are done snacking to keep cavities at bay.
- Drink water: When choosing a beverage throughout your day, stick to water. Water is designed to help flush toxins and bacteria from the body, even those located inside the mouth. Skip sugary drinks and sodas and opt for water to prevent your teeth from rotting and decaying, even with proper dental care.
- Schedule regular dentist visits: Scheduling regular dental visits is not only a way for you to ensure your teeth remain clean, but it is also a way for you to discover potential indicators that there are cavities developing in your mouth. Visiting your dentist regularly is also a way to prevent having a medical emergency or experiencing unnecessary pain from tooth decay or a cavity in the future.
- Inquire about potential treatment options: Whether you are visiting your child’s pediatric dentist or your own dentist, inquire about potential antibacterial and fluoride treatment options that are currently available to you. Both fluoride treatments, as well as antibiotic treatments, can help to mitigate tooth decay and prevent cavities from forming when utilized properly.
Foods to Avoid
When learning facts about cavities, it’s important to consider the role that food plays in our overall oral health. Sugar and sugary drinks are the top contributors to tooth decay and other tooth problems in the US and around the world, including cavities. A few foods that should be avoided at all costs for both children and adults who are concerned about their oral health include:
- Sugary snacks: Steer clear of all sugary snacks or snacks that are processed and loaded with unnecessary carbohydrates (as these will turn into sugar in the body). Sugary snacks can lead to the breakdown of tooth enamel, leading to rot, pits, holes, and ultimately, cavities.
- Sugary drinks and sodas: Another one of the world’s culprits when it comes to poor dental health includes sodas and sugary drinks. Drinks that are packed with sugar expedite the deterioration of teeth in both children and adults. Instead of a soda or a sugary drink, opt for a healthier drink that is sugar-free, such as water.
- Crackers: Crunchy crackers are a favorite snack for many. However, these carbohydrate-filled snacks can easily get stuck in the teeth, breaking down into sugar and leading to the rot and decay of teeth over time.
- Dried and processed fruits: While it may be tempting to stock up on dried fruit to enjoy your favorite fruits year-round, this is not always ideal. Dried fruits are typically processed and include added sugars and preservatives to help maintain their freshness for extended periods of time. They can also easily get stuck inside and in between teeth, leading to the breakdown of the teeth if the fruit is not removed immediately.
- Lentils and beans: While in most instances, lentils and beans are considered some of the healthiest foods in the world, they are not always ideal for those who are lacking in certain vitamins. Individuals who are lacking in specific nutrients such as vitamin D and magnesium may experience more tooth decay when consuming foods such as beans and lentils. This is typically due to the presence of phytic acid, which is more difficult to break down in those who are struggling to maintain healthy vitamin levels.
Healthy Foods for Optimal Oral Health
At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are also foods that should be enjoyed as much as possible to help with keeping teeth clean and prevent the development of cavities. Becoming educated about healthy foods for teeth and oral health can help you and your children to avoid cavities for years to come. A few foods and drinks to consume to protect your teeth and prevent cavities include:
- Water: Drinking tap and purified water with the use of a water purifier is highly recommended. Avoid sugary sodas and drinks and instead, opt for sugar-free flavored water if you are not a fan of plain water.
- Leafy greens: Leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, and kale are optimal for oral, physical, and emotional health and well-being. Additionally, leafy cruciferous greens also help to eliminate the buildup of bacteria and other food in the mouth while chewing.
- Fatty fish: Fatty fish such as salmon is extremely good for the body without contributing to the starch and sugar content inside of the mouth. Consider Hibachi food without added sugar as a great option for those who are curious about their oral health.
- Vegetables: Snacking on vegetables such as celery, cauliflower, and even broccoli can help minimize the risk of developing a cavity while providing your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs.
If you enjoy eating a variety of cuisines, research local Hispanic food distributors and other cuisines near you to find the freshest and healthiest ingredients in your area.
Tips on Dealing With Cavities
When it comes to facts about cavities, it is important to keep in mind that it is possible to address cavities even once they begin to form. A few tips to keep in mind when dealing with a developing cavity in the mouth include:
- Brush with fluoride: Use fluoride toothpaste to add an additional layer of protection to your teeth
- Brush regularly: Even with a forming cavity, it’s important to brush and floss regularly
- Visit your dentist: Always schedule a dentist appointment to ensure that you do not require immediate action with your cavity
Helping Children Maintain Good Oral Health
Helping your children maintain good oral health is easiest when you implement oral hygiene habits into your own daily routine. You can help your children with their oral health routine with the following tips:
- Maintain a positive attitude: Always remain positive when it comes to discussing oral health and taking action.
- Schedule regular dental visits: Visiting your child’s pediatric dentist regularly can help them to remain comfortable with visiting the dentist every six months.
- Brush and floss with them: Brushing and flossing alongside your child can help engagement and allow them to feel more excited about maintaining good oral hygiene.
- Use a singing toothbrush: Toothbrushes with sounds and songs are timed to ensure your child brushes their teeth for an adequate amount of time.
Risks of Not Caring for Teeth Regularly
One of the more serious facts about cavities is that not caring for teeth or cavities regularly can lead to requiring medical service from an emergency dentist. Not caring for teeth can quickly turn into a medical emergency if one is not careful or taking it seriously enough. Cavities and other long-term tooth decay issues have the potential to spread to the heart and brain if an infection forms. Visiting a dentist immediately is highly advisable whenever you are dealing with tooth rot, decay, cavities, or pain.
Understanding helpful facts about cavities can help you and your household to stay as healthy as possible at any age. The more familiar you are with what causes cavities, how to prevent cavities, and how to treat them once they begin to appear, the less likely you are to experience a serious medical emergency down the road. With an understanding of facts about cavities and regular dentist visits, maintain your peace of mind while caring for the oral health of your entire household.