Cavities. Most people have heard of them and know they are the common name for tooth decay. In fact, nearly every American adult has at least one cavity.
Most patients also know that cavities are caused from poor oral hygiene and a diet loaded with sugar.
In most cases, the cavities are caught early and a quick, usually painless filling procedure.
Why do dentists care so much about cavities? Is tooth decay really a big dental issue?
The number one goal for each dentist is to maintain the highest oral health for their patients as possible. This includes offering treatment options that protect and strengthen each of the patients’ teeth.
Cavities, or tooth decay, can threaten a patient’s oral health, smile and teeth.
If left untreated, cavities can lead to the following health issues/concerns:
- Toothache and pain when exposed to heat, cold and sweet foods and drinks.
- The tooth may crack, fracture or break.
- Tooth sensitivity to biting and pressure.
- Bad breath and taste in the mouth.
- Possible brown or black spots on the teeth.
- Nerves of the tooth will die, resulting in tooth removal or a root canal.
- Permanent damage to the tooth enamel.
- Loss of teeth.
- Crooked teeth.
- Weakened jaw bone.
- Increases the risks of other medical conditions including stroke, endocarditis, eating disorders and immune system complications.
- Lowered ability to speak clearly.
- Decreased ability to chew efficiently, lessening the body’s absorption of nutrients. A lack of nutrients can put one’s oral and overall health at risk and sensitive or missing teeth can cause discomfort when eating.
- Lowered self-confidence and quality of life. A smile with a gap from a missing tooth can be embarrassing and there are indications that show a link to the frequency of smiling and overall happiness and high-quality well-being.
Once the bacteria enter through the tooth enamel, the damaged caused by a cavity is irreversible. Quick action will be required to prevent the damage to the tooth from worsening.
A cavity may not seem like a big deal at first. However, when it goes untreated, it can cause major oral health and overall health problems and lead to a lower quality of life.
Many patients don’t know that they have a cavity as cavities are painless and often have no noticeable symptoms.
This is why regular, six-month dental visits are an important component of proper oral care and hygiene. During these dental office visits, the dentist will do a comprehensive oral exam that includes x-ray (the only way to spot early cavities).
Getting cavities treated early will help prevent cavities from causing more damage to your teeth and it may also reverse the cavity.
Early treatment through fillings will also spare you from more extensive, expensive, time-consuming and uncomfortable dental procedures and treatments in the future.
Even if you already have fillings, they can break down over time and even become a place for cavities to form making it necessary for the fillings to be removed and replaced.
Just because you don’t feel any pain or discomfort or you don’t notice any unusual discoloration, doesn’t mean you’re cavity-free. Only your dentist will be able to identify and diagnose cavities in the early stages.
Be sure to visit your dentist every six months for a regular dental cleanings, checkups and exams. Contact your dentist today to schedule an appointment if you haven’t done so already.