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General Dental Care: Understanding Tooth Decay and Preventive Care

Tooth decay and cavities are one of the most common dental health problems in the world today. Dental decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth make acid which then dissolves the tooth.If cavities are not treated appropriately, it can affect the deeper layers of the teeth, causing infection, toothache, and even loss of teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental visits can go a long way in preventing tooth decay and cavities.

What are Cavities?

Cavities, also known as caries or tooth decay, emerge as permanently damaged areas on the hard surface of your teeth, developing into tiny holes and openings. It is caused due to a combination of several factors such as poor oral hygiene, bacteria in the mouth, sipping sugary drinks, and frequent snacking without brushing the teeth afterwards.

Causes of Cavities

Like other parts of the body, your mouth naturally contains different types of bacteria. These bacteria thrive on drinks and food with high sugar content, known as fermentable carbohydrates. When not cleaned properly, bacteria start feeding on the sugar, producing acids. The harmful combination of bacteria, food particles, acid, and saliva forms dental plaque, a sticky film that coats the teeth. The acid in plaque gradually removes the minerals from our teeth’s outer enamel, causing demineralization, which leads to tiny holes or openings in the enamel. As the decay affects deeper layers of the tooth it spreads rapidly, causing a large cavity.

Symptoms of Tooth Decay or Cavities

The signs of cavities and tooth decay may vary depending on the extent and location. Initially, you may not experience any symptoms, but gradually as it extends deeper, it may cause certain signs and symptoms such as:

• Tooth sensitivity
• Toothache
• Visible openings or holes in your teeth
• Mild to sharp pain during drinking or eating something hot, cold, or sweet
• Pus around the tooth, particularly when you press the gums
• Severe pain when you bite food

How to Prevent Cavities?

While there are advanced dental treatment solutions for cavities, good oral and dental hygiene can prevent tooth decay to a considerable extent. Here is some helpful advice:

• Brush your teeth properly twice a day, or after eating and drinking
• Visit your dentist regularly for a thorough check-up
• Strengthen your teeth’s defence mechanism with sealants, fluoride, and agents that are comprised of phosphate and calcium ions
• Drink tap water, which is typically high in fluoride content and is good for preventing cavities
• Eat teeth-healthy foods, low in sugar, and avoid frequent sipping and sugar containing snacks