Last time, we talked about the corrosive properties of soda that can lead to tooth decay. In our sugar-loving culture, some tooth decay is inevitable. Today, Dr. Brian Saby at Smiles by Saby is blogging from Red Deer, AB to discuss hidden cavities and how to avoid them.
Sometimes tooth decay isn’t blatant or visible. You won’t feel any pain or see any blatant decay. Maybe your teeth are also sparkling white, but you miss one routine cleaning. Next thing you know, a year down the road your dentist is taking x-rays and lo and behold, you have cavities.
How do cavities work?
The outer layer of your teeth is covered with a hard substance called enamel. Healthy enamel is imperative to a healthy mouth. Cavities form when bacterias destroy your enamel. When bacteria build up on your teeth, it forms a hard material called plaque. You’ve probably heard all of this before and are wondering how sugar comes into play in tooth decay.
Did you know that bacteria actually thrives from the sugar and carbohydrates in your mouth? When bacteria breaks down sugars they expel acid that wrecks the enamel in your teeth. It’s easy to keep the visible edges of your teeth clear of plaque through your daily brushing. However, most of the time cavities start in the areas of your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach.
Cavities Between Teeth
Cavities in between teeth are the ones you can’t see. You can get these even if you’re teeth are polished and white. You’ll hear these kinds of cavities referred to as inter-proximal cavities by your dentist. You might be wondering how your dentist knows you have these cavities, if you can’t actually see them.
Diagnosing Interproximal Cavities
Cavities in between your teeth are diagnosed through X-rays. Do you remember the last time you got a dental X-ray? You might remember the dentist telling you to “bite down” on a piece of equipment.
These are called “bite wing” X-rays, and they show your dentist the extent of your cavity. They show whether the cavity has penetrated your enamel yet. Typically, they’re much deeper than they appear on the X-ray. This is why X-rays are pivotal for your dentist to make an early detection of your cavity. Just like most health problems, early detection is key to getting the problem under control.
When the cavity has progressed, you’ll notice tooth sensitivities to cold and sweet foods. You might even notice that it’s hard to chew on the tooth with the cavity.
Treating Cavities In Between Teeth
The key to combating inter-proximal cavities depends on if they’ve penetrated the enamel of your tooth. If your cavity is still in its early stages, you can reverse the effects of tooth decay by using a fluoride gel or rinse. The fluoride works by calcifying your teeth. In this stage, it’s imperative that you floss like crazy. Floss after every meal, snack or drink. If you want to reverse your cavity, you’ll need to work at it.
When the cavity has penetrated past the enamel and into the softer dentin tissue, your dentist will tell you that you need to take action by a filling. You might’ve gotten a filling before, but we will talk more about fillings in later blogs. When the cavities continue to progress, more advanced treatments are needed like crowns or root canals.
If it’s been more than 6 months since your last dental cleaning, or you’re suffering from extensive tooth decay and even tooth loss, then it’s time to take a trip to the dentist. If you’re unhappy with your teeth, you might want to consider cosmetic alternatives. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Saby in Red Deer, AB give us a call at (888) 415-7479.