You hear the term “cavities” so often that, eventually, the weight of the word can lose some of its gravity. However, if you develop one, then the seriousness of what a cavity is and what it means for the future of your oral health can suddenly become much clearer. A cavity, which describes a hole in your tooth, is caused by tooth decay—a bacterial infection in your tooth’s structure. Decay is a more apt description as the hole will continue to grow larger the more the infection spreads through your tooth.
Is sensitivity always a sign of a cavity?
Dental sensitivity is not uncommon. In some cases it could simply be due to extreme temperature changes. That said, in many cases, sensitivity is an early warning sign of a dental issue, like a cavity, which will likely require restorative treatment, such as a dental filling. Because the tooth layer beneath the enamel is more sensitive, if it becomes exposed due to decay, patients often experience heightened sensitivity.
If you’re experiencing heightened or extreme sensitivity, it is best to schedule a dental checkup.
Keep in mind, most patients need checkups and cleanings every six months to keep their smiles healthy, so if it has been longer than that since you last had your teeth cleaned, you should schedule an appointment regardless of whether or not you are experiencing dental symptoms.
What’s Inside a Cavity?
There are over 600 different kinds of oral bacteria that make up dental plaque, the sticky film that accumulates on your teeth. Of these, certain bacteria produce acids that directly attack the enamel that protects your teeth. When enamel erodes, oral bacteria can infect the more sensitive underlying structure, decaying the tooth and causing a cavity to form. The key to stopping decay is to remove the harmful bacteria and infected tooth structure from within the cavity. Then, your dentist can fill the cavity with a biocompatible filling, restoring its strength and integrity.
The Best Ways to Avoid Cavities
The good news is that cavities can fairly simple to treat once they’re detected. Even better news is that they can usually be prevented by practicing excellent hygiene and attending regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist. Despite the potential seriousness of tooth decay, the oral bacteria that cause it can be controlled before enough of them can accumulate to threaten your healthy teeth.
Find Out How Serious Your Cavity Is
Are you worried about your smile’s health, because of dental symptoms like discomfort while eating or grey lines along a tooth? Did your last dental visit go poorly, because of several years of poor dental hygiene, missed checkups, a diet high in sugar, or simply a genetic proclivity to cavities? If so, you may have questions or even concerns about seeking restorative treatment. A restorative dentist can help address those questions, and help restore your oral health, often while improving your smile’s appearance, as well. So instead of waiting and wondering what’s wrong with your teeth or gums, while potentially allowing the situation to grow worse, talk with your restorative dentist about what could be wrong, and more importantly, what can be done to help!
If you have a cavity, then ignoring it could put your dental health at serious risk. To find out how serious your cavity is and how best to treat it, schedule a consultation by calling Lake Forest Dental Arts in Lake Forest, IL, at 847-234-0517. We also proudly serve residents of Chicago and all surrounding communities.