Teeth may be the strongest part of the body, but they’re not invincible. Cavities are holes in teeth that can form when a tooth is worn down by decay. A cavity that’s left untreated can be painful or lead to further problems such as a root infection or dental abscess.
Cavities are often associated with children, but they can affect people of all ages. If you think you or someone in your family might have a cavity or tooth decay, you should make an appointment with your dentist.
What causes cavities?
Cavities are a result of tooth decay caused by bacteria. These bacteria live in dental plaque, a sticky film that can build up on the teeth. When you consume sugar and carbohydrates in food and drink, this feeds the bacteria which release acids. This can wear down the hard outer surface of teeth (the enamel) over time, leaving a hole.
If a cavity isn’t treated, decay can continue to spread and your dentist may not be able to save the tooth. If decay reaches the soft centre of the tooth (the pulp), this can be extremely painful and may need root canal therapy.
What are the signs of a cavity?
Cavities may be seen as small holes or pits in teeth, but depending on their position, they can’t always be seen with the naked eye. If your tooth feels painful, or sensitive to temperature when you eat or drink something hot or cold, you might have a cavity.
A dentist can check for cavities by performing a comprehensive oral health assessment and taking x-rays of your teeth. Keeping up with your regular dental check-ups improves the chance of cavities and other problems being spotted early, before the damage becomes too severe.
How are cavities treated?
If your dentist finds one or more cavities in your teeth, they’ll discuss the most suitable treatment options with you. This will depend on the size of the cavity and how much of the healthy tooth structure remains.
White fillings use a composite resin to ‘fill in’ a cavity and help restore the original look, feel and function of the tooth. You dentist can choose a shade of resin that matches your natural tooth colour.
For a larger cavity, inlays, onlays or a dental crown may be recommended. These are custom-made restorations that can restore as well as support a weakened tooth.
Can cavities be prevented?
Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to your teeth. By maintaining good oral hygiene every day, you can lower the risk of tooth decay and cavities happening.
To avoid cavities, dentists recommend that you:
- brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste twice a day
- floss between your teeth once a day
- drink lots of water throughout the day
- avoid food and drink high in sugar and acid
- have regular check-ups with your dentist
Make an appointment with a dentist in Erskineville
Do you need to see a dentist? Contact our team at Sydney Park Dental today and we’ll help you arrange an appointment at a time that suits you.
Call us on (02) 8084 7170 or get in touch online.
Healthdirect. Tooth decay [Online] 2017 [Accessed September 2018] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/tooth-decay