Your dentist tells you you have a cavity, but do you know what that means? Here we make sure you understand when and why you have a cavity, and what you should do about it.
One of the most common things we see at Cranford Dental is dental decay, also known as “cavities”. If you’ve been to the dentist, he may have told you that you have a cavity.
Are you upset to learn that you have a cavity? You are not alone: the CDC reports that 96% of Americans above age 65 have had dental decay.
What is a cavity?
A cavity is a hole in your tooth. When sugar and plaque stick to your teeth, bacteria in your mouth feeds off of the sugar and “eats” at the enamel and dentin in your tooth. This makes the decayed portion of the tooth soft, creating a hole that weakens the tooth.
How can my dentist tell that I have a cavity?
- Visually: cavities may appear as darker spots on the tooth.
- Tactilely: dentists use instruments called explorers to feel the grooves of your teeth. Healthy teeth feel slick and hard, cavities feel soft and sticky.
- Radiographically: routine dental xrays are important because they are the earliest screening tool for cavities between your teeth. Cavities on xrays appear like dark shadows. It is possible to see a cavity on an xray that was not visible in the mouth.
Your dentist may diagnose decay using one or more of the above methods. She can then show you the radiographs and photos to help you know where the cavity is.
Why does it matter that I have a cavity?
When you have a cavity, the structure of the tooth is much weaker in that area, and the tooth is more prone to break.
Without treatment, cavities become deeper and deeper, and can lead to toothaches and dental infections. In addition, cavities on front teeth can appear brown and affect your smile.
What should I do about my cavity?
If you are seeing a dentist routinely, it is likely that your cavity will be diagnosed in the early stages. This means that you will need a filling. A filling is when the dentist cleans out the soft cavity and replaces the diseased tooth structure with a strong tooth colored filling material.
Every patient and every tooth is unique. If your dentist tells you you have a cavity, discuss with him the best treatment option for your mouth.
How can I help prevent cavities?
The most common cause of cavities is diets high in sugar. Sugary beverages, such as soda and sweet tea, are the number one culprit for decay. Drink water instead! Avoid sticky candies and sugary gums.
Brush and floss properly at least twice a day, or any time after eating foods high in sugar and carbohydrates. Your hygienist can help instruct you in the right way to brush and floss.
A toothpaste and mouthwash with fluoride are essential. Fluoride strengthens teeth, making it more difficult for bacteria to penetrate the tooth’s surface.
Certain medical conditions such as acid reflux and dry mouth make you much more susceptible to decay. Please discuss with your dentist and your physician things you can do to combat medical diseases that contribute to cavities.
Regular Dental Appointments
The best time to find and treat a cavity is when it is small. At Cranford Dental, We recommend routine exams and xrays because we want to be able to offer the easiest, most conservative treatment for your dental decay.
We always welcome questions regarding cavities, or any other dental diseases.
We emphasize preventive dental care. Our hygienists do an amazing job with patient education. Our goal is zero cavities for our long time patients.Dr. Elizabeth Cranford Robinson
Trusted, Local Dentists
At Cranford Dental we want our patients to be well-informed. Our patients trust us to tell them where and why we diagnose treatment.
Contact our office at 803-324-7670 or contact us online if you would like a second opinion or consult on decay in your mouth.
Your dentist will explain the size and severity of your cavity. Ask him to point out the decay on photos and/or radiographs.
You want to avoid unnecessary dental treatment while taking care of decay that will cause deeper problems if left untreated. With modern dental technology, you can be comfortable with the diagnosis of decay in your mouth.