As you settle into the dentist’s chair, the last thing you want to hear is that you have a cavity. In this day and age, many people find out that they actually have more than one decayed intruder residing in their mouth. When a tooth starts the unfortunate journey of becoming decayed, a cavity is the result â€“ a hole that only grows bigger and deeper as time passes. In order to prevent the painful occurrence from taking place, it is suggested to follow a regimen of consistent oral care and habits.
What are Cavities?
When a tooth decays or starts to wear down, tiny openings or holes result in cavities (or dental caries), which requires immediate attention to avoid additional complications . While improper cleaning of the teeth, constant snacking, and sipping sugar-filled beverages are common causes of cavities, there are other reasons the breakdown of a tooth may take place. When cavities are left untreated, more advanced decay can lead to serious toothaches, infection, loss of teeth, and other complications. Cavity prevention is the best course of action, as in the future, practicing good dental habits will save you time, money, pain, and of course â€“ teeth.
Signs and Symptoms of Cavities
The signs and symptoms one encounters with cavities are different for each and every person, as location and intensity play an important role. Some people have no clue that they are under attack because some cavities just starting out show no symptoms at all. As the cavity becomes worse, an individual may experience toothache (or tooth pain); tooth sensitivity; visible holes or pits developing in the teeth; pain when biting down; lingering pain after eating or drinking; and mild to deep pain when consuming sweet, hot, or cold liquids and food. In some cases, pus may develop around the tooth.
Risk Factors of Cavities 
In all the world, cavities are one of the most well known of health issues, as anyone who has teeth in their mouth is at risk of this common occurrence. However, there are some factors that increase the chances of developing tooth decay and experiencing a cavity. These risk factors include:
a) Eating Habits:
A higher risk of cavities is seen when one eats and drinks foods that contain carbohydrates and sugars, such as cookies, cakes, honey, soda pop, hard candy, potato chips, and even raisins. The way a person eats is just as important as what they eat, as those who constantly snack or sip their drinks gives acid-producing bacteria a longer time to create damage.
Many water supplies in the city add fluoride in an effort to combat tooth decay. Those who live in an area that does not follow this practice are placed at a higher risk of developing cavities. Additionally, people who receive their water intake from bottled or filtered selections do not benefit from fluorinated water supplies.
Because of their age, children and older people are at a disadvantage when it comes to developing cavities.
d) Receding Gums:
When the gums pull away from a tooth, an opening is left behind where bacteria and acid can settle for longer, uninterrupted periods of time, when eventually causes the erosion of tooth enamel.
e) Dry Mouth:
A dry mouth means that there is not enough beneficial saliva to deal with the bacteria and plaque that this substance usually washes away. Saliva is quite important in the process of combating bacteria, as it can neutralize acids in the mouth, limit bacteria growth, as well as provide minerals that have the potential to heal the early signs of tooth decay.
f) Weakened Dental Fillings:
Over time, dental fillings can weaken and start to breakdown. The edges may also become rough, which permits plaque to settle.
g) Anorexia and Bulimia:
Eating disorders can cause visible tooth erosion. A common practice associated with anorexia and bulimia is to throw up food. It is the stomach acid found in vomit that blankets teeth and leads to the eventual destruction of enamel.
The enamel of teeth is also worn away when the stomach acid that comes with gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), acid reflux, and heartburn becomes an issue.
i) Various Cancer Treatments:
Radiation applied to the head or neck region can heighten the risk of suffering cavities because saliva production changes within the mouth. This oral environment can also lead to an increase in the bacteria associated with cavities.
The Negative Effects of Cavities
As you open your mouth wide to let out a laugh, some people display the traditional silver fillings that have been used to treat cavities for years. Cavities have a knack of lowering self-esteem, especially when they lead to tooth loss. Additionally, a collection of serious and long-lasting complications are also associated with cavities, including unbearable pain, tooth abscess, broken teeth, chewing problems, infection, and tooth loss.
Some people stay home from school or work because the pain of their cavity is too great. Others face difficulties chewing their food, which can lead to weight loss or nutritional problems. In rare instances, a cavity abscess can lead to serious or life-threatening infection when left untreated.
How to Prevent Cavities
In order to prevent cavities from marring your pearly whites, it is suggested to follow appropriate healthy oral and dental measures that decrease your chances. A few recommendations include:
a) Excellent Brushing Habits:
While it is suggested to brush when you awake in the morning and before you go to bed, the best results come when you add brushing after eating and drinking. This is sure to remove unwanted acid-producing particles and bacteria that can cause cavities. If brushing is not an option after a meal, try to at least rinse out your mouth with water.
b) Choose Foods Wisely:
There are plenty of myths associated with tooth decay and cavities, as it is pretty interesting to find that eating potato chips could prove more harmful than consuming a candy bar. This is because chips tend to stick in the crevices of teeth, causing increased acid production and erosion. Most of the ingredients in candy bars are actually washed away by saliva.
c) Rinse Your Mouth:
You can lessen your risk of cavities when you use a fluorinated mouth rinse after eating and drinking.
It has been proven that eating cheese may actually help prevent cavities that attack the roots in older people. Eating cheese is said to benefit both children and adults, who may suffer the decay that occurs when gums recede and the roots of teeth become exposed.
e) Regular Visits to the Dentist:
Professional tooth cleanings and routine dental exams can help keep cavities away, as well as help people find the best approach towards caring for their teeth.
f) Dental Sealants:
Teeth that are prone to cavities will benefit from the protective plastic coating called a sealant, which is placed on the chewing surface of the back teeth. The sealant creates a film that protects the grooves of teeth, which are often under attack by cavities.
g) Stop Frequent Snacking:
The food and drink you consume is used by bacteria to create harmful acids in the mouth. The longer they stay active â€“ the worse the damage caused to tooth enamel.
h) Embrace Tap Water:
Many public water supplies contain added fluoride, which helps to fight tooth decay and the threat of cavities. If you have a habit of drinking bottled or filtered water, you miss out on this protective measure.
i) Fluoride and Antibacterial Treatments:
Dentists can administer a fluoride treatment, where a concentrated treatment is applied to the teeth for a couple of minutes. Fluoridated toothpaste or mouthwash also helps. Antibacterial treatments are also offered at the dentist office, which can reduce the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
j) Xylitol :
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol generated by the reduction of the sugar xylose (also known as wood sugar). Xylitol naturally occurs in fruits and berries (like pears and strawberries) and is a known ingredient in sugarless sweets, chewing gum, and lozenges. Some studies have revealed that xylitol can lessen the intensity of acid in plaque that forms between the teeth for a limited time. It has been suggested that a xylitol supplement can help patients who possess a high risk of tooth decay. About six grams of xylitol per day is required to offset the production of acid, which in turn â€“ reduces the risk of cavities.