Cavities form when the bacteria that naturally grow in your mouth start to eat your tooth enamel. The bacteria accomplish this task by ingesting some of the sugars that you eat, and these organisms metabolise the sugar into acid. The acid then begins to break down your tooth enamel and dissolves it until the bacteria reach the dentin, nerves and blood vessels within the tooth.
Even if you have experienced cavities or dental caries in the past, you may not notice when one starts to develop in your mouth. You might not see any evidence of cavities until you visit your dentist. You might also attribute some cavity signs to other causes, like food discolouration or bruxism.
Read below to learn how to recognise cavities so you can catch them and remedy them before they do too much damage to your teeth.
1. Discoloured Spots or Patches
As cavities delve deeper and deeper into your teeth, they create a hole, and sometimes that hole exists under the topmost dentin layer. In that situation, you do not see a hole so much as a discoloured patch that can appear black, grey, brown or even extra yellowed. You should not see any concentrated colour spots on your teeth anywhere. Even an extra-white patch could signal a cavity.
2. Sensitivity in the Enamel and Gums
You might assume, when you have a serious cavity, that you will notice pain before any other sensation. In some cases, you would be right. However, many people notice sensitivity long before they notice pain. Sensitivity occurs because the bacteria have removed some of the protective enamel and dentin layers, exposing the sensitive nerves underneath. Even a tiny bit of nerve exposure can lead to sensitivity.
Sensitivity feels like a shocking or tingling sensation, and it feels worse when you eat cold, host, sweet or acidic foods. Even hot or cold air could cause a reaction.
3. Persistently Bad Breath
Bad breath can occur because you ate something especially fragrant. It can also occur because of a large number of metabolising bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria consume leftover food, and the by-product of this reaction creates a bad smell that will not go away by itself, no matter how many times you brush your teeth. You will have to see your dentist and resolve the cavity before you can have fresh breath again.
4. Relentless Toothaches
When you experience tooth pain, you might dismiss it and assume you bit something too hard. You may also assume that you clenched your jaw while you slept. However, if that pain persists all day or even for several days, then you probably have a cavity. You may even have a cavity in its advanced stages because pain does not usually manifest before the bacteria reach beneath the enamel.
5. Hollows or Holes in Your Tooth Enamel
When you notice craters, hollows or even large holes in your tooth enamel, then you need to book treatment with your dental care provider as soon as possible. Holes indicate that your cavity has reached advanced stages. The hole could turn into an abscess, which means more pain and more expensive treatment. Act quickly to save your tooth or teeth.
The average person cannot take care of a cavity on his or her own. He or she must seek a dentist's help to overcome the bacteria and fill in the gaps the cavity left behind. So, if you notice any of the signs above in your mouth or your children's mouths, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. The sooner your dentist remedies the cavity, the healthier your mouth will be.
The time has come. You brush and floss your kids' teeth every day, but it's finally time for their first official dentist appointment. You know how important it is to attend regular dentist appointments. You want your kids to have good oral health for life and don't want them to develop a fear of the dentist or feel anxiety about dental visits.
To ensure your kids have a good experience on their foundational visit to the dentist, prepare them properly before the big day.
Schedule the First Visit Early
Most experts advise that children see a dentist sometime before their first birthday. The earlier you can get your kids in to the dentist, the better. If they start early, they'll be familiar with the process and know what to expect as they get older.
However, if you missed that first early visit, it's not too late to establish good oral health for your kids. Get them in to see a dentist as soon, and as young, as possible.
Go to a Family-Friendly Dentist
What kind of dentist you choose matters. Even if you love your own dentist, they may not be right for your kids.
Choose a dentist who regularly deals with children and families. Many dentists' offices have long experience dealing with children and will happily accept appointments for the whole family. Your kids will likely have a better time if their dentist knows how to appeal to children.
Remember it's not just the dentist who will deal with your kids. Everyone from the front-office staff to the oral hygienist will also interact with your children and contribute to their first dental experience. Choose an office that knows how to make a positive first impression.
Explain Why You Go to the Dentist
Before their first visit, explain to your kids why it's important to go to the dentist. Talk, in a kidfriendly way, about how the dentist uses special tools to make their teeth squeaky clean again.
Use metaphors or imagery that are easy for kids to understand. Decide, based on your children's personalities, whether to tell them how little cavity bugs hide in their teeth and the dentist needs to clean them off, or whether to just say you need the dentist to keep teeth healthy and strong.
Tell your children what you personally like about going to the dentist. Maybe you like when the dentist polishes your teeth or takes an X-ray. Relay your own experience to give your kids a positive impression of what to expect.
Show Your Kids Positive Media
Familiarize your children with the environment and equipment they'll see at the dentist's office. Show them pictures and videos of kids at the dentist and images of the tools the dentist uses to clean their teeth. Find episodes of kid-friendly TV shows that address dental visits, and watch them with your children.
Expose your children to a variety of positive media about dental visits. If they know what things look like and what to expect before they get to the office, they'll be less intimidated by the dental environment.
Give Your Kids Something to Look Forward To
Offer your children a treat or special event for after their dentist visit. Maybe they'll get to spend a day at the zoo, or just go out for ice cream after their appointment. Give them a positive event to look forward to so they approach their first visit to the dentist with happy anticipation.
With the right preparation, you can help your kids establish a positive relationship to dentists and oral hygiene. Promote a good attitude before their first dental visit and build a healthy foundation for the rest of their lives.