As hard and resilient as your teeth are, they are not indestructible. In fact, your teeth are extremely vulnerable to damage and decay, especially if they are not cared for properly. Even with good oral hygiene habits, teeth still can suffer from decay and, ultimately, cavities which require fillings to be repaired to a healthy and functional state. Understanding what tooth decay and cavities are and how to recognize the first signs of these issues are the best ways to prevent them in the first place and treat them if they do ultimately develop.
What Causes Tooth Decay and Cavities?
Tooth decay occurs when oral bacteria spread throughout the mouth, producing an acid that wears away at tooth enamel. The bacteria which cause tooth decay develop because of plaque which accumulates on the surface of the teeth. Plaque is the sticky and colorless film that forms over the surface of teeth. It is formed primarily by trapped and hard to remove food particles, especially carbohydrates like sugar and starches and other food types known for contributing to tooth decay. Other factors, such as insufficient amounts of saliva, certain medications, and pH imbalance can contribute to plaque buildup.
Bacteria love plaque; they feed on it. More plaque inevitably causes more bacteria to fester and ultimately can decay a tooth so much that cavities form in the tooth. Eventually, bacteria may also seep into the gums, spreading tooth decay to the root of the tooth and causing gum disease. That is why dentists so often emphasize the importance of minimizing and removing plaque buildup.
Symptoms of Tooth Decay
If you don’t take steps to stop the development of plaque and bacteria, you will eventually find out the hard way that your teeth are suffering from decay and that cavities have developed. Specifically, if you notice any of the following common symptoms of cavities, you should see your dentist for treatment at your earliest opportunity:
- A toothache
- Pressure or pain when biting down
- Increased sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks
- Pits or holes in a tooth, some of which may not be visible without an x-ray
- Pus around the tooth
When a cavity develops, and the bacteria and decay have not progressed into the gums or roots of the teeth, filling the cavity with a biocompatible filling is the best and most effective way to fix the problem and prevent further damage to the tooth. As we emphasize here at our holistic dental practice, mercury fillings are to be avoided as they have been linked to a wide range of health problems. At Assure A Smile, all of our dental fillings use alternative materials that completely avoid the risks associated with mercury and metal restorations.
Avoiding cavities and eradicating tooth decay in the first place hinges upon the ability of the individual to eliminate oral bacteria. Bushing, flossing, and oil pulling every morning and evening are just a few ways to accomplish this task. Visiting the dentist every 6 months for a thorough cleaning and dental exam is also key.
Assure A Smile: Miami Holistic Dentistry
At Assure A Smile, we partner with our patients to help them develop healthy, natural, and effective oral hygiene habits as part of an overall wellness strategy and holistic healthcare approach. To learn more about the importance of holistic healthcare and how to develop healthier habits for a better you, please contact us online or call us at 305-274-0047.