At a young age, our mothers and fathers begin reminding us before bedtime, “brush your teeth or else you’ll get a cavity!” Growing up, this is usually enough to get a kid up out of bed and back in the bathroom to properly brush and floss their teeth. The fear of having to go to the dentist for cavities and of having a possibly painful operation is greater than childish rebellion or laziness.
Most kids don’t know what a cavity is, let alone what happens when you need to remove one. The truth is most adults do not know until they have had one either. The hard thing is if you don’t understand what cavities are, you don’t know how to protect yourself from getting one.
Back to the Basics
To start, what is a cavity? It’s a hole in your tooth.
A cavity occurs when there is tooth decay or erosion of the enamel on your teeth. The formation of a cavity starts with the build up of plaque. While plaque occurs no matter what you do, consuming sugary foods and drinks causes higher amounts of plaque to form. When you brush and floss your teeth, you help to reduce and prevent build up of plaque. When plaque is left on your tooth enamel for too long, its bacteria will attack and break down your enamel.
The number one way to prevent cavities is to practice good, strong oral health and hygiene practices. This means brushing and flossing at least twice-a-day, choosing nutritious and healthy food options, maintaining a balanced diet, and visiting your dentist regularly for checkups.
What happens when you get a cavity?
If you do get a cavity, don’t worry. It happens to even those who take perfect care of their teeth. In most cases, visiting a dentist and repairing your cavity is an easy and painless process.
In most cases, patients will need a filling to keep the tooth decay from worsening. This means removing the decayed and affected areas in your teeth. Then, the dentist will clean out the area and replace the hole with, you guessed it, a filling.
For more developed cases where the tooth decay alters the shape of the tooth, a crown will needed. A crown is essential like a tooth-shaped cap. First, you will visit the dentist to get an impression of your tooth and have a temporary crown placed on your infected tooth. Next, you will come back to the dentist to have a permanent crown based on your impression placed in your mouth. Less often, an entire tooth extraction may be needed when a filling in crown is not enough to save the tooth.