Cavities & Tooth Decay

What Is Tooth Decay?

Medically speaking, cavities are referred to as caries. There are a number of things that can cause decay. When teeth are subjected to long-term destructive forces that negatively impact the tooth’s structure, your enamel and inner dentin material suffer.

If your teeth have repeated exposure to foods that contain sugar or consist of carbohydrates, eventually you could experience problems. Soda, candy, ice cream, and even milk can damage teeth. If you leave the residual remains of these foods inside the mouth versus flossing and brushing afterwards, they break down forming bacteria, which forms a destructive, sticky substance called plaque. Plaque, in turn, adheres to your teeth and if it isn’t removed it can affect your oral health.

Plaque will eventually destroy enamel, teeth, and the underlying structure of the tooth. If leftover food particles remain in your mouth, plaque interacts with these particles to form harmful acids and cavities can be the result.

If that’s the case, the sooner cavities are treated the better. If they are ignored, this can lead to even more serious and costly procedures. When that happens, you may have to resort to root canal therapy.

Preventing Cavities

If you want to prevent cavities, you need a good, soft bristled toothbrush, unwaxed dental floss and a fluoride toothpaste. These are by far the best defense. Another effective cavity fighter is your own saliva. It contains certain chemicals that can literally rinse away many harmful materials. Besides your saliva, put a stick of sugarless gum in your mouth. It will stimulate saliva production between brushings.

You can also have special sealants and varnishes applied to your teeth to prevent cavities.

The following symptoms could indicate you might have a cavity:

  • Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold water or foods.
  • A localized pain in your tooth or near the gum line.
  • Teeth that change color.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

The sugary substances found in breast milk, and some of today’s juices, can cause tooth decay in your baby’s mouth. Called “Baby Bottle Tooth decay,” the liquids your baby consumes from his or her bottle will combine with saliva to form pools inside the mouth, creating the perfect place for bacteria to form.

When it’s not treated, the result can be premature decay of your baby's future primary teeth. If that occurs, it can later impede the proper formation of permanent teeth. 

You should encourage your toddler to take liquids from a cup and you should do it as early as possible. You also don’t want to let your baby nurse on a bottle while the baby is in the process of going to sleep. Drinking from a cup as soon as the baby is able is a proven deterrent when it comes to baby bottle tooth decay.