• What are Cavities?

  • What exactly are cavities? Cavities – also called dental caries – are holes in your teeth. They occur when acid in your mouth erodes your tooth’s enamel. The enamel is the hard outer layer of the tooth. 

    How serious are cavities? 

    If the cavity is not treated, you might get an infection or have to get your tooth pulled. Dental caries are among the most common chronic diseases affecting people of all ages. 

    Who can get cavities? 

    Anyone at any age can get a cavity. Since children might not be brushing properly or consuming more sugary foods and drinks, they may be more susceptible to developing cavities. Adults who have been treated in the past for cavities might develop decay around the treated area. And as we age our gum line might recede, exposing more of the tooth to decay and cavities. 

    Here are some factors that can increase your risk of developing cavities: 

    • Genetics
    • Gum recession as you age
    • Medications 
    • Conditions that cause dry mouth
    • Starchy or sugary foods and drinks
    • Not properly brushing after eating 

    Are there different types of cavities?

    There are three main types of cavities:

    • Smooth surface: This is a cavity that grows slowly dissolving enamel. To help prevent smooth surface cavities from developing, be sure to properly brush and floss. 
    • Pit and fissure: Deep grooves on your premolars and molars as a result of decay are called pits and fissures. Food can get stuck in them and they are more challenging to clean. This gives bacteria time to grow and eat away at your tooth’s enamel. These might need to be filled to prevent further decay. 
    • Root: As we age our gum may recede leaving the roots of our teeth exposed. When plaque and acid build-up, root decay can occur.

    Are there signs of cavities?

    At first, you might not even notice that your tooth’s enamel is decaying. Once the decay has progressed to the next level affecting the tooth’s dentin or root, then you may start to notice. But there are earlier signs that you might be developing cavities, which are: 

    • Toothache
    • Swelling of the face
    • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods or beverages
    • Bad breath

    Can I prevent cavities? 

    Good oral hygiene habits are the best way to help prevent cavities. This includes: 

    • Brushing for at least 2 minutes twice a day
    • Flossing at least once a day
    • Limiting starchy and sugary food and drink intake
    • Regular dental appointments 

    Don’t let this scare you. If you have any questions or concerns give us a call at (503) 328-6388 and one of our dental professionals will be able to help you out.