Know about cavities – Types and preventive measures

The common word that most of us hear when we go to dentist for oral checkup is ‘Cavity’. We generally learn about tooth decay and cavities right from the childhood and try to keep ourselves away from them by following good dental practices. Cavities, which can be otherwise described as holes, are caused by tooth decay that usually starts by attacking the tooth enamel and gradually progress deep inside to the underlying layers of dentin. When the cavities are deep, people experience enormous pain when they eat or drink because the nerve inside the tooth gets exposed to the food. Cavities are normal to children and adults, particularly when people eat lot of carbohydrates and sugars, which react with bacteria inside the mouth to form acids that decay the tooth.

They are generally divided into several types based on the occurrence in the tooth –

  • Coronal cavities – It is one of the most common types that generally occurs on the top of the tooth or between the teeth where chewing mostly happens. The reason for this type of cavity could be anything, from poor diet habits to not following the proper oral care practices.
  • Root cavities – Generally when part of tooth root is exposed, it gets decayed quickly because there is no enamel covering it as a protection. These cavities are very common in older adults who are more likely to have receding gums for many reasons, either due to periodontal disease or may be improper brushing practices.
  • Recurrent tooth decay – Sometimes the bacteria and food particles collect in the gaps between the fillings and crowns, gradually leading to formation of plaque, tooth decay and cavity. The possibility of developing recurrent decay is more if the crown is not properly placed or if the filling wears leaving a good amount of gap for the food particles to slip in.

How to prevent occurrence of cavities?

Follow good oral practices
Brush at least twice a day with fluoride rich toothpaste and if possible use soft bristles in order to avoid hard brushing. It is a good practice to brush before going to bed so that bacteria in the mouth will not develop acids that can damage the enamel resulting in tooth decay. Since cavities can be formed more in the areas like between the teeth, on the chewing surface area and below the gum line, make sure you floss the teeth regularly before brushing to avoid the formation of plaque. It is important to keep your mouth fresh and clean, by rinsing it with a good fluoride mouth wash after each meal.
Avoid cavity formation food
Keep yourself away from sugary and starchy foods which can really harm your teeth by developing cavities. Of course, no body can really stay away from eating sugars, but if at all you are having a big bite of sugary food, make sure you brush it afterwards or at least rinse with a mouth wash. Having sweets or sticky foods in the mouth for longer period can eat away the tooth enamel quickly, which may even worsen into tooth decay and deep cavity.
Avoid smoking
Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are the main reasons for ruining the oral health in teenagers and adults. Inhaling toxic substances through your mouth not only fades the color of the teeth into yellow but damages the general health as well. It initially starts with staining the teeth, then develops plaque & tartar, which eventually leads to bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, cavities etc.
Have regular dental checkups
Go for regular checkups at least once in six months to prevent the problems at the initial stage rather than developing them into complicated issues. Thorough cleaning and regular checkups at the dentists office will reduce the possibility of developing cavities, and increase in the dental hygiene. During doctor visit, the dentist will carefully exam each tooth using a dental instrument and look for the signs that may possibly lead to cavities or tooth decay.