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What You Need To Know About Tooth Decay & Cavities

What Is A Cavity?

Cavities are what you get from tooth decay — damage to the tooth. Tooth decay can affect both the outer coating of a tooth (called enamel) and the inner layer (called dentin).

What Causes Tooth Decay?

When foods with carbohydrates and sugar such as bread, cereal, milk, soda, fruit, cake, or candy stay on your teeth, the bacteria in your mouth turn them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and your saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel, creating holes called cavities.

Who Can Be Affected By Cavities?

Dental caries, or tooth cavities, are an unfortunate dental problem that affects children and adolescents as well as adults. Tooth decay and cavities are commonly caused by plaque buildup. When plaque comes in contact with sugar and starch, it activates bacteria in plaque, causing it to attack and erode tooth enamel. As the tooth enamel breaks down and wears away, it leaves the tooth susceptible to the formation of cavities.

What Are Symptoms Of Cavities?

Each person may experience different tooth cavity symptoms. In the early stages of tooth cavity formation, there may be no symptoms. A dentist, however, is likely to see signs of early tooth decay and help to prevent the cavity from forming or getting worse.

As the tooth cavity gets larger, common symptoms include:

  • A toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain when eating hot or cold foods and beverages
  • Visible holes in teeth
  • Inflammation or infection of gums around the tooth

How To Prevent Cavities

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Preferably, brush after each meal and especially before going to bed.
  • Clean between your teeth daily with dental floss or interdental cleaners.
  • Rinse daily with a fluoride-containing mouthwash. Some rinses also have antiseptic ingredients to help kill bacteria that cause plaque.
  • Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacks. Avoid carbohydrates such as candy, pretzels, and chips, which can remain on the tooth surface. If sticky foods are eaten, brush your teeth soon afterward.
  • Drink fluoridated water. At least a pint of fluoridated water each day is needed to protect children from tooth decay.
  • Visit our office regularly for professional cleanings and oral exam.

Schedule A Consultation

Cavities don’t just affect children – adult teeth may be affected by tooth decay. Contact our Baltimore dentist office to be screened for cavities and tooth decay and find out what treatment options are available to you. We offer many treatments for a tooth cavity in Owings Mills, MD and the greater Baltimore area. Call us at (410) 697-6290 or request a consultation online.