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Cavity Treatment

Cavities are one of the most common dental ailments, and many people will have at least one in their lifetime. Cavities are small areas of decay in a tooth where bacteria, plaque, and tartar have eroded the enamel and created a small hole.

Cavities can cause mild to moderate pain or sensitivity and must be treated to prevent further decay, infection, or erosion–they will not go away on their own. When caught early, cavities can usually be treated with a simple filling procedure, during which the decay is cleaned out of the tooth and replaced with a resin material.

Restorative treatments like cavity fillings are one of the many ways Monarch Dental helps keep your smile beautiful and healthy. We also offer a range of preventative treatments like fluoride and dental sealants to help reduce your chances of developing a cavity. 

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Common Causes of Cavities

Cavities can develop for a variety of reasons, and sometimes even with good dental hygiene. 

Here are 4 of the most common causes of cavities:

1. Sugar

Why it causes cavities: Sugar particles in the foods and beverages we consume react with the naturally occurring bacteria in our mouth, producing an acidic secretion. When acid, bacteria, and sugar combine, they form a sticky substance that can slowly erode enamel, leaving tiny holes, or cavities. 

How to prevent cavities caused by sugar: Frequent brushing and flossing are the best way to combat cavities caused by sugar but that may not always be enough. You should try to minimize or avoid foods and drinks with high sugar content and visit the dentist every six months for a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup and check for cavities.  

2. Genetics

Why they can cause cavities: All of our adult and baby teeth are formed in utero. While adult teeth don’t begin erupting until around the age of 6, the durability–or weakness–of their enamel is already well established by the time they start to appear. Genetic factors play a big role in the development of teeth, so while good care of those teeth is important, there may be some aspects of your dental health you just can’t control.

How to prevent cavities caused by genetics: If you know that you or a family member is prone to dental health issues like cavities, let our dentists know. Preventative measures like fluoride treatment and dental sealants, as well as routine cleanings and checkups, can help reduce the number and severity of cavities, even if you are considered at high risk for developing them.

3. Age

Why it can cause cavities: Young children are at a higher risk for cavities due to their exposure to sugar and their underdeveloped dental hygiene habits. Elderly people are also at an increased risk because teeth can wear and weaken with age and gums can begin to recede, exposing more of the tooth root.

How to prevent cavities caused by age: Introducing young children to good dental hygiene routines and care early on can help ensure good oral health later in life. Individualized dental care can help ensure you or your loved one is receiving treatments specific to their unique needs. Regular visits to the dentist and a healthy diet can also help minimize cavities associated with different life stages.

4. Lifestyle choices

Why they can cause cavities: Habits and lifestyle choices like smoking, chewing tobacco, poor oral hygiene, and diets heavy in salt and sugar can increase your risk of developing a cavity. For example:

  • Smokers are at a higher risk for developing a cavity because the nicotine in cigarettes reduces saliva production, leading to dry mouth and creating an environment where plaque hardens into tartar faster.  
  • People who chew tobacco are at higher risk of decay because it can cause significant damage to the gums. When gums are damaged, they can pull away from the teeth leaving the roots vulnerable to decay.
  • Without regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings, bacteria, plaque, tartar, and sugar build up in the mouth, causing cavities.

How to prevent cavities caused by lifestyle choices: Avoid or limit very sugary foods and drinks, and drink plenty of water. Practice good oral hygiene, like daily brushing and flossing, and visit the dentist at least every six months. If you use nicotine or tobacco, consider stopping.

How can you prevent cavities? 

Preventing cavities is always preferable to treating cavities. While cavities can develop even with the best dental care, there are a lot of things you can do to help prevent them from forming in the first place or from getting worse.

Here are 6 ways you can prevent cavities from causing you problems:

  1. Professional dental cleanings. The American Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist every six months for professional cleanings and an oral exam. During this appointment, a hygienist will remove plaque and tartar from your teeth using specialized instruments. While plaque buildup can be managed at home with regular brushing, once it hardens into tartar, it requires the skill and tools of a qualified dental professional to be removed. It is also during these appointments that the dentist will check for cavities, as well as for signs of other oral health concerns like cancer, gum disease, or bruxism.
  2. Fluoride treatments. Fluoride treatments consist of a paste or gel that is applied directly to the enamel of your teeth to help strengthen and increase their durability. The fluoride is left on the teeth for a few minutes, then rinsed away, leaving your teeth better able to resist decay and cavities.
  3. Good dental hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day is perhaps the easiest and most effective way to keep cavities at bay. Brush for at least two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, and you can follow up with a fluoride mouthwash for added benefit.
  4. Dental sealants. Dental sealants are thin plastic shells placed on teeth that are highly susceptible to developing cavities, such as the molars, which have deep pits and grooves and can be difficult to clean. Dental sealants smooth out the biting surfaces of these teeth, making them easier to care for and providing a barrier against cavity-causing bacteria. 
  5. Limit sugar intake. Sugar essentially feeds the bacteria in your mouth, combining with the bacteria to create an acid that erodes your enamel and causes cavities. By limiting how much sugar you eat and drink, you provide fewer opportunities for cavities to form.

What happens if I don’t treat a cavity?

Cavities can only be detected and treated by a dentist; they will not go away on their own. The longer a cavity goes without being treated, the more the tooth will decay, leading to even greater health risks and concerns. Even a small cavity that isn’t filled can eventually affect the gums, causing bad breath, discoloration, and pain. It can also turn into an infection, or lead to deterioration of the gums or jawbone. Over time, an untreated cavity can even lead to tooth loss. 

Are cavities in baby teeth bad?

Though children only have baby teeth for such a short time, these deciduous teeth play a very important role in a child’s overall health. Unhealthy, infected, or decaying teeth–which could lead to missing teeth–can cause speech delays, dietary issues, and crooked adult teeth.

For example, pain or discomfort due to a cavity can prevent a child from speaking or eating normally, affecting their speech development and nutrition. Baby teeth also act as placeholders for secondary teeth, so it’s important that deciduous teeth remain healthy and intact to guide adult teeth into their proper location and to keep infection from spreading from the baby teeth to adult teeth. 

Establishing healthy habits early on is critical for kids, especially for preventing cavities in the baby teeth, but it can be challenging to get them to cooperate. 

Here are some tips for establishing good dental care habits with your kids so you can help  protect their teeth from cavities:

  • Limit their sugar intake.
  • Let them have a turn brushing.
  • Let them choose their toothpaste and toothbrush.
  • Start taking them to the dentist early. Most dentists recommend your child has his or her first appointment by the time they are a year old.
  • Don’t let your baby or toddler carry around a bottle or go to bed with a bottle. Also make sure they are only drinking water or milk from their bottle, not juice.

Affordable Cavity Treatment at Monarch Dental

At Monarch Dental, we believe good dental health is the foundation for good overall health, so we make it convenient and affordable for you and your family to get the care you need for a lifetime of healthy smiles. From our comprehensive list of services to our comprehensive list of accepted dental insurances, multiple locations to flexible scheduling, Monarch Dental is your family’s choice for quality dental care. Schedule your appointment today at the Monarch Dental location nearest you!