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Many people will suffer from cavities at some point in their life. Cavities are uncomfortable and painful to deal with and can even lead to tooth loss if left untreated!

Being such a common problem, many people are looking for answers to how cavities develop, avoiding cavities, and what problems they can cause if left untreated. In this article, we will explore these questions and provide an insight into the development, and prevention, of cavities.

How do cavities form?

During the first phase of developing cavities, plaque begins to form around your teeth. This occurs when sugars aren’t cleaned or appropriately removed from the teeth, and the bacteria within your mouth interacts with the sugar to create an acidic substance. Once this substance combines with bacteria, saliva and food particles in your mouth, it develops into a sticky film around your teeth, known as plaque.

Once plaque has formed, the acids within it start to erode the enamel of your teeth, creating tiny openings within the exterior of teeth, which is the first stage of a cavity developing. Once the enamel is eroded, the plaque will begin attacking the next layer of the tooth, a softer substance known as ‘dentin’.

The plaque will only keep eating away at the tooth if left untreated until it hits the inner tooth or the ‘pulp’. Once this stage has been reached, the cavity is very advanced, making your tooth extremely sensitive and painful. At this point, the bone supporting the tooth can become affected as well. If the bacteria are left to thrive, your immune system might supply white blood cells to fight off the infection, leading to abscesses. If this occurs, root canal surgery may need to be considered.

Here’s how to prevent cavities

As frightening as cavities may sound, the prevention of them occurring is quite simple to put in place; an organised and consistent oral hygiene routine accompanied by a balanced diet.

For starters, maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine is essential for looking after your teeth. By brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes, you will remove any excess food or bacteria left after a meal. Accompany brushing with flossing, too, as this is a great way to clean in between the teeth too. If possible, use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and do not apply too much pressure on your teeth when brushing.

Alongside a well-maintained oral hygiene routine, keeping a healthy and balanced diet is another crucial factor to implement when looking after your teeth and preventing cavities from developing. Eating healthy foods for your teeth, such as a wide range of fruit, vegetables and dairy products, will help strengthen your teeth. Avoid consuming sweetened food and drinks, such as carbonated drinks or sweet treats, as these are full of sugar and will only encourage cavities. It is also essential to avoid frequent snacking throughout the day, as this will assist with producing more acids in your mouth, which attack the teeth.

When should I see a dentist about a possible cavity?

Because cavities do not have any symptoms associated with them when they first begin to develop, you should see your dentist once every six months for a routine dental check-up. Having your teeth checked and cleaned regularly by a dental hygienist ensures that cavities, or any other dental problems, will be spotted and resolved quicker, saving you time and money.

If you are experiencing extreme sensitivity, pain in your tooth or would like more information regarding cavities, contact your nearest Ascent Dental Care practice today in Loughborough, Tamworth, Malvern or Solihull!