How much do you really know about cavities? We’ve heard about them since we were kids, and yet, many of us don’t understand what they are, how we get them, or how to treat them. In today’s blog post, let’s figure out the truth about cavities by considering three myths and three facts.
To start, let’s address three myths about cavities.
1. It’s only a problem if it hurts.
Tooth decay doesn’t always mean pain. In fact, by the time your tooth hurts, it’s gone too far! The nerve of the tooth is irritated, so what could’ve been a simple filling is now a root canal or similar procedure. Plus, the longer you wait or the more pain you’re in, the more expensive it is to fix.
2. That brown spot is definitely a cavity.
Not always. The decay process may have started but then stopped (more on that below!). Your tooth enamel hardened up again but looks discolored from the initial deterioration.
3. A filling lasts forever.
While a filling can last for a decade or longer, chances are, you’ll need to have it replaced at some point. Plus, a filled tooth can still get a cavity, decaying around the edges of the filling. The better you take care of your teeth (and your fillings), the longer you can make them last.
Now, let’s look at three facts about cavities.
1. Sugar causes cavities.
While this statement is true, it’s not as clear-cut as it sounds. Yes, sugar can lead to cavities — but not on its own! The sugar in foods like bread, beans, fruit, potatoes, and many others combine with bacteria in your mouth to create acids that then eat away your teeth. For this reason, it’s so important to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, floss once a day, and rinse with mouthwash once a day. Remember: While sugary candy and sodas aren’t good for your oral health, neither is pasta if you don’t clean your teeth properly!
2. Once a cavity starts forming, the damage is done.
Without a good oral health routine, cavities begin to form. First, plaque appears on your teeth. As you eat more carbohydrates, the plaque becomes acid. Over time, that acid wears a hole in your tooth. This hole allows for bacteria to get inside the tooth, which means you can’t brush or floss it away anymore.
You may be able to slow down the decay, but once it gets through the enamel, there’s no turning back. Cavities don’t just “go away” on their own; they need to be treated.
3. A cavity must be treated.
Never ignore a cavity! A dental filling is an effective solution for most cavities and provides a natural-looking result. However, as tooth decay progresses, it may eventually reach the nerve of the tooth. When the nerve dies, the treatment options are a root canal to remove the dead nerve or complete removal of the tooth.
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