The Black Hole
Dental cavities can be gruesome things. Not only with the unpleasantness of sensitivity and pain, of food getting stuck in the cavities every time, or of the black gaping holes they eventually become; but also of their ability to decay away a tooth into oblivion!
If you are one of those who plan on keeping your natural teeth the way they are – the ornaments of your smile, it is important to understand how a dental cavity forms, how you can know a cavity is starting, what you can do to prevent them and what can be done if they still pop up in your teeth uninvited.
A dental cavity forms from food that remains stuck to the teeth, from germs housed in your mouth that grow on this food, and in the process from the acids that are produced that decay the tooth. You will often notice the decay starting as a dark spot on the tooth, usually in the center of a back tooth. You can also suspect a cavity if food gets stuck in a tooth or in between two teeth very often, if you have started feeling sensitivity to hot, cold or sweets, or, if it pains when you bite from a tooth. The pain on biting, and persistent or severe sensitivity are frequently signs that the dental cavity has gone deeper into the tooth and infected its roots. Other signs of infection can be swelling and severe, continuous pain in the tooth.
Its easy to prevent cavities. Remember a couple of minutes back we talked about how cavities are formed. So, if you do not have any foods sticking to your teeth on which germs can grow, if you have lesser germs themselves in your mouth or if your teeth are healthy and strong to not be decayed by the acid attack – you can “smile-off” those teeth happily! There is no better way than the combined act of tooth brushing and flossing that achieves all this. The brushing and flossing mechanically removes any food sticking to the teeth, they remove the bacteria in your mouth, and the fluoride in the toothpaste makes the teeth stronger and more resistant to the acids of the germs. So, the best way to prevent cavities is daily, twice and thorough tooth brushing and flossing. Eating raw fruits and avoiding sweet and sticky foods is the other way round to keep the teeth free of food for bacteria.
But are you sure you have been brushing and flossing every nook and cranny of the teeth, and that too as said before – daily, twice and thoroughly? To be sure, make it a point to see your dentist every 6 months or at least once a year. Your dentist will examine and clean all the teeth with his mechanized instruments to bring you back to a “perfect” oral hygiene. If he spots any dental cavities beginning to form, he can timely advise you to improve your brushing there, or if needed do a simple filling. Dental fillings are the treatment for dental cavities, wherein, the decayed part of the tooth is removed and a hard, dental filling material is substituted to make your teeth ready to eat, speak or smile. For a tooth where the dental cavity has infected the roots, the treatment advised is called root canal treatment (RCT). Here the roots of the teeth need to be cleaned first to get rid of the infection before the hole in the tooth can be filled. And lastly, (and hopefully you have awoken to your dental hygiene before that!), if a dental cavity continues infecting and decaying the tooth beyond repair with filling or RCT, it is removed and replaced with an artificial tooth.