Many people think they don’t need to visit the dentist if they don’t feel like anything is wrong. Unfortunately, it’s this mentality that’s caused so many people to have tooth decay in the United States. According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, 91 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 to 64 had dental caries (cavities) in permanent teeth from 2011 to 2012. That means more than likely, you have cavities in your mouth right now, but don’t know it.
In today’s post, your dentist in Waco explains why cavities aren’t necessarily felt at first and what you can do to prevent them.
How Do Cavities Form?
While some oral bacteria is healthy, many bacteria contribute to oral disease by producing acids. These acids are formed after they consume the foods leftover from the surface of our teeth and in the pockets of our gums. Over time, large amounts of bacteria and acid form into what is called dental plaque. This directly attacks tooth enamel.
Once enough tooth enamel has worn away, small cavities can start to take form. By not removing this dental plaque as soon as possible, you only put your remaining tooth enamel and inner tooth at risk for exposure and infection.
What are the Signs of a Cavity? Do They Hurt?
It’s very difficult to tell when a cavity is forming on your own because cavities don’t hurt in the early stages. This is because tooth enamel does not contain any nerves to alert you of forming cavities. At first it might sound reassuring to know that cavities don’t cause pain initially, but it’s exactly this fact that makes them so insidious.
However, signs of a moderate to severe cavity can become noticeable in the following situations:
- Your teeth feel sensitive, especially after eating sweets, hot foods, or cold foods
- You feel pain when biting down
- You notice visible holes in your teeth
- You see black, brown, or white stains on the surface of your teeth.
The best way to confirm if you have cavities or not is to visit your dentist in Waco. Once decay has reached the inner tooth where many nerves exist, you’ll need to visit right away.
How to Prevent Future Cavities
By visiting your dentist in Waco every six months, you’ll be on a sufficient schedule to catch and treat cavities before they become worse. Your dentist will remove damaging deposits from your teeth that cause cavities and infections, keeping them functioning for many years.
In between visits, make sure to brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, floss daily, and keep a balanced diet that promotes oral health. Try to reduce the amount of sugars you consume daily to make cleaning your teeth easier. If you do consume sweets or other foods high in sugar, try to brush your teeth soon after or chew sugarless gum to promote saliva production. Saliva works to clean your teeth before you get a chance to brush, just don’t chew your gum for too long.
Not sure if you have a cavity right now? Schedule a visit with your family dentist in Waco today! He’ll confirm it for you and make sure to clean your teeth right the first time!
About the Author
Dr. Rick Cofer earned his dental degree while attending the Baylor School of Dentistry. He then became a member of the Texas Advanced Dental Seminars and Seattle Study Club and has been for over five years. These groups him provide the most up-to-date techniques and tools for his patients. To learn more about his practice, contact him at (254) 732-0309 or visit his website.