The holidays come along with lots of sweet treats and yummy drinks, and while they’re fun to enjoy, they can wreak havoc on our dental health if we’re not careful. This Christmas season, give the gift of dental health to you and your family by knowing what you can do to prevent cavities and tooth decay — all while still enjoying the occasional sweet holiday treat.
Cavities are all too common, but do you know what a cavity really is? A cavity is what happens when a tooth decays or breaks down. KidsHealth from Nemours explains that a cavity is a hole that can grow bigger and deeper over a period of time. Cavities, also known as dental caries, are important to get repaired sooner rather than later. They further explain that teeth can develop cavities because of plaque.
Plaque is the sticky film that covers your teeth, and it’s mostly made up of germs that contribute to tooth decay and cavities. The plaque in our mouth clings to our teeth, and then the bacteria in our mouths make acids that then begin to eat away at our tooth’s enamel. When the acids break through the enamel, the inner parts of the tooth can decay and a cavity can form.
Signs of Cavities
If you had a cavity, would you know? Cavities usually bring on a wide array of annoying and uncomfortable symptoms that are your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. If you educate yourself on the common signs of cavities, you are more likely to catch the problem before it’s too far developed. Common signs that you have a cavity can include:
- Hot and cold sensitivity. If you have sensitivity that lingers after eating or drinking anything hot or cold, that is a telltale sign of a cavity looming. When the enamel of your tooth begins to break down, it can affect the dentin, which is the hard tissue layer below the enamel. When there isn’t enough enamel to cover the dentin, you will begin to feel sensitivity.
- Lingering sensitivity to sweets. Hot and cold sensitivity are the most common. However, a lingering sensitive to sugary foods and drinks can also mean you might have a cavity.
- Toothaches. A persistent toothache on one or more teeth and signal that you have a cavity. This symptom is one of the most common signs of a cavity. A toothache can happen randomly, or it can be brought on as a result of something that you eat or drink.
- Tooth staining. Stains on your tooth can start as white spots. Though, over time, as the decay becomes more advanced the stain can become darker. Staining caused by a cavity can range in color from brown, black, or white and is most commonly on the surface of the tooth.
- A hole in your tooth. If you see a white spot on your tooth and it becomes worse, you might end up with a hole in your tooth that you will be able to see or feel with your tongue. If you notice this sign, it is a clear signal that you have a cavity.
There are things you need to do year-round to prevent cavities from developing. To prevent a cavity from forming, you should:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for a length of two minutes each time, especially after indulging in sweet treats. You should brush gently and focus near the gumline, being sure that you are removing all plaque from your teeth.
- Floss once a day. Food can get stuck in-between your teeth, and these hard-to-reach spots are where even your toothbrush bristles can’t reach. By flossing, you can help remove debris in these small crevices.
- Watch what you eat. While it’s okay to indulge, certain foods and drinks can make you more at risk of developing a cavity. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and drinking lots of water is your best option for preventing tooth decay. However, you can still enjoy your occasional sweet treats around the holidays. However, just be sure you are caring for your teeth afterwards.
- See your dentist. If you aren’t going to see your dentist for regular exams and cleanings, you are more likely to develop an advanced cavity. Dentists can see deep into your mouth, even the areas you can’t see on your own, which is important in catching and treating cavities before they develop too far and eventually cause tooth loss.
Make an Appointment with Mountain Aire Dentistry
If you think you are showing signs of a cavity, or just want an exam to be safe, make an appointment at Mountain Aire Dentistry today. Call us now: (303)-731-7755.