Dental Cavities: Tooth Decay Symptoms, Causes, Types

What Is Dental Cavity?

To define a dental cavity, we should first explain what happens in the mouth when eating or drinking something. The bacteria in the mouth produce acids to help digestion. Although they are harmless, they can cause damage to the teeth if we don’t care about our oral health. That’s when dental cavities form. 

Dental cavities, known by other names such as tooth decay or dental caries, are holes in the teeth caused by acids and bacteria that erode the tooth enamel. In its first stages, you may only see white spots on the teeth, which may not be painful. But, if erosion goes deeper, it can damage the root or lead to infection. That’s why it is essential to visit a dentist regularly to avoid tooth loss or other dental problems caused by dental cavities.

Dental Cavities: Tooth Decay Symptoms, Causes, Types

What Does a Dental Cavity Look Like?

You may wonder what a dental cavity may look like or if you can diagnose it yourself. The truth is that normally people don’t recognize dental cavities until they feel the pain! Meanwhile, a cavity is a dark spot on the tooth that will erode over time and lead to a hole in the tooth. Sometimes the cavities are deep or not visible to the naked eye. That’s why the dentist will prescribe an X-Ray to see what’s inside the teeth or how deep the decay has gone. 

Consequently, even if you see dental cavity pictures, you may not understand if your teeth have cavities. However, if you visit your dentist for preventive procedures, such as teeth cleaning, they can find the small dental cavity and prevent tooth decay. Additionally, if you maintain good oral health or brush your teeth regularly, you can prevent your teeth from this dental problem. 

What Causes Dental Cavities?

Some of the causes of dental cavities are:

Plaque buildup

Dental plaque is formed by the bacteria on your teeth after you eat or drink sugary or starchy foods. If plaque is not removed, it can form a sticky tartar, making it more challenging to clean your teeth and creating a shield for bacteria, leading to decay. 

Poor oral hygiene

If you don’t follow a dental care routine, such as brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, or rinsing your mouth with water or mouthwash, you will increase your risk of developing cavities.

Dry mouth

Saliva is the natural cleaner in the mouth; it helps wash away food particles and plaque from your teeth and neutralize the acids that cause cavities. If you take certain medications that may dry your mouth, drink plenty of water to solve this problem. 

Eating and drinking habits

Consuming sugary foods and drinks, carbohydrates, or acid can lead to tooth decay. Examples include candy, soda, juice, bread, pasta, citrus fruits, vinegar, and wine. Snacking frequently or sipping sugary drinks throughout the day can also expose your teeth to more acid and plaque.

That’s why routine dental care is important because if you don’t brush your teeth or do regular flossing, dental plaque is formed, which will cause decay in the tooth if it is not removed. 

How to Check for Dental Cavities: Do Dental X-Rays Show Cavities?

Rarely can you see the spots on your teeth; it is not something you can check by yourself. Commonly, dental X-Rays can show what’s happening inside your tooth. In this case, the dentist can discover how severe the decay is and if it can be resolved by simple dental fillings or a root canal procedure is required. 

Symptoms of Dental Cavity

Although you usually can’t see the cavity, there are some symptoms that can alarm you; a cavity has been formed on your teeth:

  • Visible holes, pits, or cracks on your tooth surface
  • Bad breath 
  • Feeling a bad taste in the mouth 
  • Toothache or tooth sensitivity 
  • Swelling in cheeks 
  • Gum disease’s signs, such as gum bleeding 

If you have experienced any of the dental cavity symptoms, book a visit to a dentist in Darwin to treat your dental problem before it gets deeper.

What Is a Dental Cavity Classification?

Dental cavity classifications have six classes to make it easier for dentists to assess the location and severity of dental caries. Furthermore, the cavity classification system also has four categories to describe the severity of the decay:

A: The decay is limited to the enamel. Fluoride treatments or teeth cleaning may be helpful.

B: The decay extends into dentin but not more than halfway to the pulp. Dental fillings may be recommended. 

C: The decay extends into dentin, more than halfway to the pulp, but not into it. A dental filling or root canal treatment, which are the most common dental procedures, may be offered based on the decay process. 

D: The decay extends into or through the pulp. If it hasn’t infected the pulp or gum, root canal treatment can solve the problem. Otherwise, tooth extraction may be recommended. 

The cavity classification system helps dentists diagnose, treat, and prevent tooth decay. Depending on the class and category of the cavity, different types of dental fillings, crowns, or root canal treatments may be needed.

How to Prevent Dental Cavity?

There are some dental care routines that can save you from dental decay. Including: 

  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Limit sugary food and drinks and follow healthier foods. 
  • Avoid smoking because it can stain the teeth and increase plaque.
  • Rinse your mouth with mouthwash or salt water. Do it at least once a day to prevent plaques from forming. 
  • Visit a dentist regularly.  

How to Treat Dental Cavity Pain?

You may ask, “Can dental cavities heal naturally?” 

You should note that although there are some home remedies that can help you reverse the early stages of the dental cavity or relieve its pain, there is no way to treat it at home. Therefore, if you feel any toothache, visit a dentist as soon as possible.

However, if you can’t visit a dentist soon, there are some remedies to relieve the dental cavity pain: 

  • Apply numbing gel.
  • Take over the counter pain medications.
  • Rinse your mouth with salt water. 
  • Try clove oil over the pain. 
  • Apply a cold or hot pack over the pain area (from outside the mouth) 

Read more about other dental cavity treatments

How to Remove Dental Cavity

Dental cavity removal is a procedure that involves removing the decayed part of the tooth and restoring it with a filling material. It is also known as dental filling or dental restoration. During this procedure, the dentist uses a drill or laser to remove the decayed part. If the area is not infected, it will be filled with dental filling materials, such as composite resin, porcelain, or dental amalgam. The dental filling is done under local anesthesia, only the affected area will be numbed, and the patient won’t feel any pain during the procedure.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, a dental cavity is a common dental problem that can be prevented through proper oral hygiene practices such as avoiding sugary foods and drinks, maintaining oral health, and visiting the dentist regularly. It is important to address dental cavities early on to prevent further damage and potential tooth loss. By taking care of your teeth, you can guarantee a healthy and beautiful smile for yourself. 

If you are looking for a dentist to diagnose a dental cavity in Coolalinga, Darwin, Palmerston, Humpty doo, or Howard Springs, check out Acacia Dental for different dental treatments

Is a cavity a dental emergency?

A cavity is not a dental emergency if it is small and doesn’t cause pain or any other discomfort. Generally, the early stages of a cavity can be reversed with fluoride treatment. But, if it causes severe pain, you should see a dentist as soon as possible.

Is a dental pothole a cavity?

A dental pothole is similar to a cavity but not caused by bacteria or acid. It is caused by mechanical stress or friction on the tooth surface, such as from grinding, clenching, or biting hard objects.

Do dental implants get cavities?

Since dental implants are considered artificial teeth, they cannot get cavities.

What is a dental pulp cavity?

The dental pulp is the innermost part of the tooth. If the dental cavity reaches this part, a dental pulp cavity is formed, which damages the tooth roots or creates an infection. Therefore, root canal treatment will be required.

What is a cavity dental caries?

Dental cavity and dental caries are the same, both are a disease that causes the destruction of the hard tissues of the tooth.

What do dental cavities do?

A dental cavity will erode the teeth and cause pain, sensitivity, and bad breath in the mouth.

What bacteria causes dental cavities?

Dental cavities are caused by bacteria that produce acid from the sugars and starches in the foods and drinks we consume. The acid erodes the enamel, the hard outer layer of the tooth, and creates holes or openings in the tooth surface. These holes are called cavities.

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