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Despite technological advances, cavities are one of the most common illnesses in our society. Cavities begin when harmful bacteria in your mouth reacts with sugar and starches in your food, producing acids that wear away tooth enamel. Cavities can go undetected for some time because you won’t feel pain from a cavity until it reaches the center of a tooth where the pulp (nerves) is located. Parents can even pass tooth decay bacteria on to their children by kissing them or sharing eating utensils! Parents, siblings, all can spread harmful bacteria if they are sharing straws, treats, and toothbrushes. There are essentially three types of cavities:

Smooth Surface Cavities
Found on the outside smooth sides of teeth, these are the most preventable type of cavity, and the most easily reversed. Developing slowly, they start as a white spot where bacteria dissolve the calcium on a tooth’s enamel. These start to develop in adult teeth between the ages of 20-30.

Pit and Fissure Cavities
These are also called “coronal” cavities, and they arise on the narrow grooves on the chewing surface of teeth. Starting as early as the teen years, they progress quickly and are more difficult to clean as they are harder to reach. Dental sealants on these back teeth can help prevent these cavities.

Root Cavities
Root cavities arise on the root surface of a tooth. Found in adults past middle age who have receding gums, these develop wherever parts of the root are exposed. These types of cavities develop from poor oral hygiene, dry mouth (limited saliva production which would otherwise neutralize bacterial acids) and a diet high in sugar and starches.

To prevent cavities, fluoride can help tooth enamel heal in the early stages. Once a cavity spreads inside the tooth it will require a filling to drill out the decay and fill the space left behind. Cavity causing culprits include poor oral hygiene, snacking constantly, and sipping sweetened drinks throughout the day.

What Can You Do?
–Brush your teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush at least twice a day.
–Floss thoroughly at least once a day.
–Visit your dentist at least once a year for cleanings and checkups.
–Use a fluoride toothpaste if you don’t have access to fluoridated water.
–Consider dental sealants to protect your back teeth.
–Eat a healthy balanced diet.
–Avoid snacking between meals.

If you have questions, concerns, or would like to schedule your next dental cleaning, you can reach our team at Vela Dental Centers Southside by calling 361.994.4900.