Dental cavities have become a prevalent issue in today's age and time. Owing to the lifestyle we are accustomed to, what used to be a rare occurrence in the past, has become so common that even the younger age group is getting affected by it. 1 in 4 adults aged 20 to 64 currently has at least one cavity.
But, what is a cavity?
Simply put, a cavity is a hole that is caused by tooth decay. It is formed when the acid in the mouth disintegrates the tooth enamel. Although almost anyone can form a cavity, proper brushing and flossing can help prevent it to a great extent.
Once the tooth has started to decay, it takes about three years for a cavity to form in the outer layer of the tooth. As bacteria in the mouth subsist on sugary or starchy foods and drinks, these are eventually converted into acid which leads to further wear down of the tooth as the sticky substance formed coats the teeth.
Did you know that the adequate presence of Vitamin D can help prevent or manage cavities?
Can You Treat Cavities at Home?
The cavity can certainly be prevented with regular and adequate cleaning of the mouth with the use of flossing and brushing, but once it has penetrated the dentin, home remedies do not come to the rescue. However, here are some of the home remedies that can help treat ‘pre-cavities’ if taken care of early on.
Eliminating Sugary Foods - According to the WHO, consuming sugar-rich foods is one of the leading contributing factors to dental cavities. Constantly consuming sugary foods or drinks does not give you a chance for your tooth to remineralize and paves a way for further decay.
Oil Pulling - An ancient practice that involves swishing around the oil in your mouth for about 15 to 20 minutes can help remove plaque, gingivitis, and other bacteria from the mouth. You can use coconut or sesame oil to follow this practice once a day regularly after brushing your teeth.
Using Fluoride Toothpaste - Fluoride helps in preventing cavities and remineralize enamel. Regular use of fluoride toothpaste on an electric toothbrush and following it up with water flossing can help tremendously in preventing cavities and tooth decay.
Most dental problems including cavities can creep in silently without having you experience any kind of pain until severe damage has been done. The best way to spot early cavities is through timely checkups with your dentist so it doesn’t get worse and you can get the best treatment before it gets worse.
Cavities Treatment at the Dentist
Professional treatment for cavities depends upon how severe is the decay. The sooner you get care, the better the chances of reversing early-stage cavities. Below are some of the treatment options for cavities.
Fluoride - Professional fluoride treatment contains more fluoride than what we get in toothpaste or mouth rinses. If your cavity is at an early stage, getting a fluoride treatment can help prevent further decay. It may be in liquid, gel, foam, or varnish that's brushed onto your teeth or placed in a small tray that fits over your teeth.
Fillings - If your cavity has progressed beyond the enamel, fillings are the most common treatment for cavities. These are made of various materials like tooth-colored composite resins, porcelain, or dental amalgam which is a combination of several materials.
Crowns - When the decay is extensive and the tooth is weakened, a custom-made crown is used to replace your tooth’s natural crown. The decayed area of the tooth is drilled away for the crown to fit in. It can be made up of gold, high-strength porcelain, resin, porcelain fused to metal, or other materials.
Root Canal - When the wear down of the tooth reaches the inner-most layer - the pulp, then a root canal is practiced. This treatment is given to save the hugely infected tooth instead of completely removing it. It involves the removal of infected pulp which is replaced with fillings.
Tooth Extraction - When the tooth is decayed enough to be prevented by any of the treatments, it becomes necessary for it to be removed so as to save other teeth around it from getting infected. It is suggested to get a dental implant or getting a bridge to fill the gap created due to pulling the tooth.