Cavity (dental caries)

What is dental caries?

Dental caries, also known as tooth decay or cavity, is when tooth surface is broken down by bacteria in the mouth. These often show as a hole in the tooth which can be sensitive, but sometimes dental caries is not noticeable.

What causes caries?

The following factors increase the risk of getting dental caries:
  • Eating and drinking sugary foods and drinks.
  • Poor oral hygiene – not brushing twice a day and flossing.
  • Smoking.
  • Drug use.
  • Poorly fitting crowns and bridges
  • Dry mouth

How to prevent dental caries?

Caries can be easily prevented by following these tips:
  • To prevent cavities from forming, it is recommended you brush and floss twice a day for a minimum of two minutes.
  • Brushing and flossing after eating and drinking will also help.
  • Avoid sugary food and drink.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Booking regular appointments with your dentist.
  • Using fluoride-containing toothpaste.

How to treat caries?

If you are struggling with any symptoms of caries, please contact your dentist and schedule an appointment. Caries cannot be fixed at home, the sooner it is spotted- the easier it will be to treat. Typically, caries is treated with a filling. The caries is cleaned, and the dentist will build the tooth up with a filling.

If the caries is extensive, your dentist may suggest an onlay or a crown instead. If the caries has penetrated deep enough and is affecting the nerve/blood supply of the tooth, you will need to have root-canal treatment, or in some cases the tooth may require removal.

How to spot caries?

Dental caries is often symptomless; hence it is crucial to see your dentist for regular examinations. They are experts in diagnosing caries and have various methods to do so. If the caries is more extensive, you may notice the following:
  • Toothache.
  • Swollen and sore gums.
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods.
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
  • Chipped or broken teeth.
  • Grey, black, or brown spots developing on the tooth.

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