Tooth Tips for Later Life

Dental Cavities: What You Need to Know

If you are suffering from a toothache, it is likely that they are being caused by dental cavities. Below is a guide to everything you need to know about dental cavities.

What is a dental cavity?

A dental cavity is a tiny hole which develops on the exterior of a tooth. Your teeth are covered with a protective layer called enamel. The enamel covers a softer layer called dentin. Beneath the dentin is the soft interior part of the tooth called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves. When cavities develop on the exterior of your teeth, they collect food debris and bacteria which accelerate decay and expose the sensitive dentin underneath. This can lead to a toothache and increased levels of sensitivity.

What are the causes of dental cavities?

Cavities are caused by the build up of bacteria inside of your mouth. Bacteria feed on sugars and convert them into plaque. The build up of plaque gradually softens the hard layer of enamel and begins to cause it to decay. The decay will often result in a very small hole or cavity forming on the surface of the tooth. If the cavity is not treated with a dental filling, it will typically grow in size, leading to damage to the dentin and the eventual death of the inner pulp of the tooth. When the pulp dies, the entire tooth may become infected. An infected tooth is very painful and may require a root canal.

How can I prevent cavities from forming?

There are a number of steps you can take to combat the formation of cavities. These are:

  • Consuming food and drink which has a low sugar content, as the lack of sugar will prevent the growth of bad bacteria.
  • Taking vitamins such as vitamin A, C and D, which all help to keep the enamel on your teeth healthy.
  • Maintaining your dental health by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing and using mouthwash, as recommended by the Australian Dental Association.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum after meals to stimulate the production of saliva as this will help to wash plaque and food debris away from the surface of your teeth and to neutralise acids in your mouth.
  • Attending regular dental check-ups so your dentist can treat any cavities as soon as they appear to prevent further oral health problems.

If you would like further advice about how to maintain your dental health, you should book an appointment with your dentist today.