What Are Cavities?

What Are Cavities?


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“Cavities” is another word for “tooth decay” and “caries”. Cavities are heavily influenced by lifestyle, what we eat, how well we take care of our teeth, the presence of fluoride in our water and toothpaste, and heredity.

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The bacteria in your mouth need food to live and multiply. When you eat sugary foods, or even food containing starches, the bacteria eat them too and turn the sugars into acids. These acids begin to dissolve teeth and cause cavities. This is worse when a person suffers from dry mouth.

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Acid from bacteria dissolving a tooth.

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Cavities can be treated by doing fillings. Left untreated, a cavity can destroy your tooth and kill the nerves in its center. This may result in an abscess, an area of infection at the root tip. Once an abscess forms, it can only be treated with a root canal or by extracting the tooth.

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Things you can do to prevent cavities:

  • Brush at least twice a day and floss daily to remove plaque from between teeth and below the gums.

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  • Have regular dental checkups.

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  • Eat a well-balanced diet that limits starchy or sugary foods. When you do eat these foods, try to eat them do eat these foods, try to eat them with your meal instead of as a snack to minimize the number of times that your teeth are exposed to acid.
  • Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste and mouthwash.

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