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Cavities, tooth decay or dental caries are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of the teeth that result in tiny holes on the teeth.

Signs of cavities

One might not be aware that cavity is forming in their teeth. So, it is always necessary to watch out of the symptoms.

  1. Black or brown spots on the surface of the tooth.
  2. Toothache without any apparent cause.
  3. Everyone has bad breath occasionally, but if it does not go away even after brushing, it can be a sign of an oral issue.
  4. Cavities often causes bad taste which one will not be able to get rid off easily.
  5. Sensitivity and mild pain to hot, cold and sour food.
  6. Visible holes in the teeth.

 How do cavities develop?

 Plaque forms Plaque is a sticky film coating the teeth. When we eat sugary food and do not clean the teeth properly, bacteria in the mouth begins feeding on them and forms plaque. Over a period of time, plaque hardens and becomes tartar. 

 Plaque attacks Acids in plaque destroy the minerals in the tooth’s hard, outer enamel causing tiny holes in the enamel. Once the enamel gets worn out, acid can reach the next layer of the tooth called dentin causing sensitivity.

 Destruction continues After damaging the dentin, bacteria continues to march through the teeth moving to the next inner layer called pulp that contains blood vessels and nerves. This causes pain and discomfort.

Risk factors

Cavities mostly occur at the back of the teeth (molars and premolars). They have lots of pits and multiple roots making it possible for food to get stuck in there. These areas are harder to clean making it possible for cavities to occur.

Parents can pass harmful bacteria from their mouth to their children which can put them at an increased risk of cavities. So parents must avoid biting and sharing food with their children.

Some sticky food like dried fruit, soda candies etc stick to the teeth for a longer time and are less likely to be washed away easily by saliva easily. This increases the risk of decay. 

Frequent sipping or snacking causes to create a continuous acid bath over the teeth resulting in more acid attacks and damaging the teeth. 

Saliva generally helps to wash away food particles from the mouth. Reduced saliva flow resulting in dry mouth makes the teeth more vulnerable to cavities.

Heartburn causes stomach acid to flow into the mouth wearing away the teeth enamel and causing significant damage. Dentin gets exposed which is attacked by the bacteria causing tooth decay. 

Preventing cavities

Good oral hygiene along with proper food choices can help to avoid tooth decay. 

Brush twice a day and especially before going to bed.

Clean between your teeth daily with a floss followed by rinsing with a mouthwash regularly.

Have regular dental checkups.

Eat for a healthy mouth

Take sugary food with meals. As mouth produces more saliva during meals, this helps to reduce the acid production and rinse pieces of food from the mouth. 

Choose tooth friendly food like fruits and vegetables that help keep your teeth clean. Fruits and vegetables also help to keep the saliva flowing.

Avoid frequent snacking and sipping.

 Avoid sticky candies, sweets and starchy food that can get stuck in the teeth. Avoid carbonated drinks loaded with sugar as this may wear away the tooth enamel.