Holes in teeth are referred to as cavities, caries, and tooth decay. They grow as a result of the teeth’s hard surfaces being worn away by acids. With the appropriate attitude to oral care, early cavities can be avoided and even self-heal.
We’ll go over how cavities form, how to avoid getting one, and how to stop tooth decay in its early stages in this post.
What are cavities?
Cavities, also known as caries and tooth decay, are holes in teeth. They develop when acids erode the tough surface of teeth.
The enamel, which is the tooth’s surface and outer layer, is where tooth decay begins. It eventually reaches the dentin, the innermost layer of the tooth. A cavity starts to form at this moment.
The tooth loses minerals in the first stage (demineralization), which manifests as white patches. This occurs when the dentin has not yet been affected by decay that has damaged the tooth’s enamel. The teeth must, however, need professional treatment if the decay has advanced to the dentin.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that in the past ten years, 17% of kids between the ages of 5 and 19 have had untreated cavities.
Fortunately, with the appropriate attitude to oral care, early cavities can be avoided and even self-heal.
How is a cavity formed?
When your teeth are exposed to the acids produced by oral bacteria, tooth decay and the subsequent development of cavities occur. The minerals in your teeth deteriorate over time as a result of repeated exposure to these acidic chemicals.
There are five phases of dental decay that can occur before a cavity forms:
When the enamel is exposed to acids from bacteria working on sugars and starches, the initial stage of tooth decay happens.
When the enamel keeps deteriorating, the deterioration enters its second stage. Your teeth could develop cavities at this point.
When tooth decay reaches the dentin, the soft tissue under the enamel, it enters the third stage of decay. The cavity will probably hurt at this point in the decay process.
When a cavity reaches the pulp, which contains your tooth’s nerves and blood vessels, that is when the decay has reached its most serious, final stage. The swelling becomes more severe after the pulp is reached.
These can happen if the germs in the cavity spread below the pulp and create a pus-filled pocket. A tooth abscess can occasionally go unnoticed, but most of the time they are very painful.
The length of time it takes for a cavity to form is not known. Numerous factors can cause tooth decay.
The largest factor influencing how quickly a cavity will form is dental hygiene, though.
Can a cavity be reversed?
If a cavity is discovered at the beginning or early stages of the demineralization process, the initial stage of tooth decay, it is typically treatable.
To restore the minerals in your teeth and stop decay at this stage, practice good dental hygiene daily. This especially include routine brushing, flossing, and exposure to fluoride, a mineral that supports tooth enamel strength.
Even with better oral hygiene, cavities can sometimes not be avoided. Depending on how far the tooth decay has progressed in different situations, the cavity treatment will vary.
A cavity may be treated in one of the following ways:
When a cavity affects a greater section of your tooth, a metal or porcelain crown may be required.
The pulp, the interior portion of your tooth, is filled during a root canal. When the pulp is harmed or infected, root canal therapy is administered.
When tooth decay cannot be addressed any longer, a tooth extraction is the only option.
For smaller cavities, a resin or composite filling is used.
Inlays or onlays
For cavities that are too big for a typical filling, an inlay or onlay is employed.
Is it possible to treat cavities at home?
Dental professionals must professionally treat cavities. However, a number of natural treatments can fortify tooth enamel to stop early demineralization and stop tooth decay. Remineralization is the procedure that stops cavities from developing.
Cavities can be prevented and reversed with good oral hygiene practices like regular brushing, flossing, and tooth cleanings with a dentist.
A tried-and-true method for preventing tooth decay and cavities is to use fluoride. Fluoride applications such as toothpaste with a high fluoride content help to remineralize tooth enamel and guard against cavities. According to the findings of a 2018 study, toothpaste with high fluoride prevents cavities more efficiently than toothpaste with low fluoride.
The most effective self-applied fluoride application method, according to a paper published in 2020, is sodium fluoride mouthwash.
Here are some natural ways to stop tooth decay:
Ayurveda, an antiquated alternative medical system, is where oil pulling got its start. A spoonful of sesame or coconut oil is swished around the mouth for roughly 20 minutes before being spit out.
Research suggests that oil pulling can enhance dental health, despite the fact that some of its claims are not supported by science. It lessens plaque, gum irritation, and oral bacteria, according to a 2017 review.
According to an analysis from 2020, coconut oil pulling could enhance dental hygiene and oral health. The usefulness of the approach needs to be further investigated; the researchers stated.
Eggshells contain calcium, which a person might use to help the tooth enamel remineralize. Additionally, it can be used as an abrasive cleaning to get rid of plaque. According to a 2018 study, modified eggshell with titanium oxide composite shields teeth from acids.
According to the findings of a 2015 study, eating sugar-free gum after meals decreased levels of germs that harm enamel.
Less of this bacterium may result in enamel that is stronger and more resistant to decay.
Avoid sweetened meals and beverages
One of the main factors contributing to cavities is diet, particularly the use of free sugars. Sugar and oral bacteria combine to create an acid that erodes tooth enamel.
The bacteria that cause cavities may be combated with aloe vera tooth gel. According to a 2019 study, the antibacterial properties of this gel limit the growth of bacteria in the mouth.
In a 2017 study, aloe vera and tea tree oil were found to be equally effective at cleaning teeth as chlorhexidine-based conventional cleaners in doing so.
Aloe vera’s antibacterial characteristics may help prevent dental cavities by lowering harmful oral germs, while additional research is required.
How can a cavity be stopped before it even starts to form?
Even while tooth decay can be stopped in its tracks after it has started, practicing proper oral hygiene is still the best defense against cavities.
Some of the most significant actions you may do to maintain good dental hygiene are listed below:
- Use fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth at least twice daily. This will aid in preventing plaque accumulation and repairing any early enamel damage.
- To stop plaque from accumulating between your teeth, floss once every day. The optimum time to floss is right before bed to stop bacteria from growing overnight.
- By engaging in activities like consuming fluoridated water and utilizing fluoride-containing items, you can increase your exposure to fluoride. You may even be able to get prescription fluoride for use at home from your dentist in specific circumstances.
- Reduce your intake of foods that are too sweet or starchy. The majority of tooth decay is caused by these foods. When you do eat these sugary items, remember to wash your teeth well afterward.
- Visit the dentist for a cleaning at least once every six months, or more frequently if your dentist suggests it.
Don’t put off getting treatment if you do have a cavity that has to be filled. Even a small cavity should be repaired straight away to stop further tooth rot from occurring.
Cavities are regarded as one of the most prevalent types of tooth decay and may be one of the simplest to treat.
Fortunately, if you practice good oral hygiene, you can prevent cavities before they develop.
Early demineralization can be prevented or even reversed with the aid of fluoridation, daily brushing and flossing, and routine cleanings.
WRITTEN AND EDITED RESPECTIVELY BY:
Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for enochkabange.com and a writer for Wapomu