What are Cavities?
Cavities or dental caries, are other names for tooth decay. Tooth decay can be influenced by our lifestyle, what we eat, how well we take care of our teeth and the amount of fluoride in our water.
While cavities are common in children, adults are also at risk. The types of cavities include:
- Coronal cavities — the most common type occurring in both children and adults, coronal cavities are found on chewing surfaces or in between the teeth
- Root cavities — as we age, our gums recede, leaving parts of the roots of the teeth exposed. Since there is no enamel covering roots of the teeth they are more susceptible to tooth decay
- Recurrent decay — tooth decay can form around existing fillings and crowns. This is because dental plaque can accumulate more easily around these areas leading to an increased risk of tooth decay
Adults are especially at risk for cavities if they suffer from a dry mouth due to reduced saliva flow. Dry mouth may be caused by illness, medications, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and may be either temporary or permanent, depending on its cause.
How Do I Know if I Have a Cavity?
Only your dentist can tell you if you have a cavity as early cavities cannot always be seen. Cavities are most likely to develop on the chewing surfaces of the teeth, in between teeth and near the gum line.
How Can I Help Prevent Cavities?
- Brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste. Use a toothpaste with an appropriate level of fluoride both last thing at night and on one other occasion
- Remove plaque thoroughly from all tooth surfaces during toothbrushing. You can use floss or interdental brushes to remove plaque from in-between teeth, ask your dental professional to show you how. You can check the effectiveness of your toothbrushing by using disclosing tablets which show any remaining plaque left behind
- Use a soft or medium toothbrush. Brush teeth in a set pattern so that you don’t miss any teeth
- Check your diet to reduce the amount and frequency of sugar – especially in-between meals
- If you suffer from a dry mouth, possibly due to medication affecting your saliva flow, talk to your dental professional
- Visit your dentist regularly for dental check-ups
|Healthy tooth||Early decay||Advanced decay|