Taking care of your oral health is essential to maintaining a healthy, radiant smile. As your trusted Tuscaloosa dentist, we understand the curiosity, and often confusion, that surrounds oral health. One of the most common ailments and areas of question revolves around cavities. What causes them? How can you tell if you have one? What’s involved in treating a cavity? Let’s find out.
What Does a Cavity Look Like?
Your dentist in Tuscaloosa believes in empowering patients with knowledge about their oral health. One common question we encounter is, “What does a cavity look like?” Some of the noticeable signs of a cavity include:
- A hole or damaged area on the surface of a tooth
- Discoloration such as dark spots, ranging from light brown to black
- Tooth sensitivity, especially when eating or drinking something hot or cold
- Pain when chewing
- Persistent bad breath
If you notice any of these signs, schedule an appointment with a dentist near you as soon as possible.
How Do Cavities Develop?
Cavities, also known as dental caries, are caused by the accumulation of plaque – a sticky film of bacteria – on the teeth. When sugars and carbohydrates in the food we consume interact with these bacteria, acid is produced. Over time, this acid erodes the enamel, creating a cavity.
The Importance of Early Detection and Prevention
Early detection of cavities is key to preventing further damage and maintaining optimal oral health. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are your first line of defense against cavities. During your dental visit, your dental team will conduct a comprehensive examination, using advanced diagnostic tools to identify cavities early on, before they have a chance to cause more serious problems. Digital X-rays and visual inspections allow them to assess the extent of decay and formulate a custom treatment plan if needed.
How Are Cavities Treated?
Cavities are commonly treated through a quick dental procedure. Your dentist begins by numbing the affected area with a local anesthetic to ensure a painless experience. Using a drill or laser, the decayed portion of the tooth is carefully removed, leaving a clean and prepared surface. Once the decay is removed, your dentist fills the cavity with a suitable material such as dental amalgam or composite resin. This filling restores the tooth’s structure and prevents further decay. In more advanced cases, a crown may be placed to strengthen the tooth.
How to Prevent Cavities?
Maintaining a diligent oral hygiene routine is crucial to preventing cavities. Brushing teeth twice daily helps remove plaque and bacteria, reducing the risk of decay. Flossing daily is equally important, as it removes debris between teeth that a toothbrush might miss. Limiting sugary and acidic foods and drinks can also protect teeth, as these substances contribute to enamel erosion. Instead, choose a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and phosphorus to help strengthen teeth and prevent cavities. Additionally, regular dental check-ups with your Tuscaloosa dentist, ideally every six months, allow for professional cleaning and early detection of potential issues.
If you haven’t seen a dentist in more than six months, we welcome you to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards a cavity-free future. Your radiant smile awaits!