What Is a Cavity Exactly?

July 15, 2023

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is an opening in your tooth caused by tooth decay, which results in its erosion by acid attacks on its enamel layer. Teeth enamel acts as the first line of defense against decay; once destroyed by acid attacks, it becomes vulnerable to further infection in its deeper layers and finally to the pulp where serious dental infections can develop.

Preventing cavities doesn't need to be complicated; all it requires is regular and effective oral hygiene practices. Here are a few easy tips on how to do just that:

  • Brush twice daily using fluoride toothpaste for optimal oral care.
  • Floss daily to keep between your teeth free from plaque.
  • Limit consumption of sugary and acidic food and drinks.
  • Select foods that promote optimal dental health.
  • Drink plenty of water each day to flush away bacteria and food debris. This will also help your immune system fight infections more effectively.
  • Sugar-free gum should be consumed after meals to boost saliva flow and help neutralise acidity in the stomach.

How Does a Dentist Find and Repair Cavities?

Good oral hygiene habits can prevent cavities from forming in the first place, but early detection of any early warning signs such as tooth decay is key to prevent further tooth decay and infection. A dentist is skilled in finding cavities at dental exams using different methods.

Visual Examination: Your dentist will perform a visual exam of your teeth using a small mirror and dental light, searching for any discolorations or holes, which indicate decay in teeth.

Probing With an Instrument: If your dentist detects suspicious areas on your tooth, they may use an instrument to probe the area to assess if decay has penetrated its enamel and posed any danger.

Dental X-Rays: Dental X-rays can detect cavities between or under the surface of a tooth that are invisible to the naked eye. This is especially helpful because some cavities cannot be seen with the naked eye alone.

If a cavity is discovered early, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatment, filling, or bonding as appropriate solutions. Fluoride can help strengthen enamel and reverse early stages of decay, while fillings involve extracting decayed tooth material and filling cavities with filling material. A dental bond involves applying tooth-colored resin directly to the surface of a tooth before curing it with special light, bonding resin directly onto the tooth structure.

If the cavity has penetrated deep into the tooth and reached the pulp, your dentist may recommend root canal treatment. At first, they will numb the area surrounding the tooth before making an incision in its top surface to access the infected pulp within. Next, they will extract it, clean out the area, and fill and seal up any cavities found therein before filling and sealing the remaining holes with fillers and sealers to complete this procedure.

Simply stated, a cavity is an opening caused by tooth decay that needs to be filled. Good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing twice daily and flossing daily, as well as limiting sugary and acidic food and beverages and choosing healthy options, such as fluoride treatment, can prevent cavities. Dentists can detect cavities through visual examinations, probing with an instrument and dental X-rays as well as fixing them with fluoride treatment, filling, dental bonding, or root canal treatments. However, remember that prevention is always better! Take good care of your teeth now before they become bigger problems.

If you’ve been putting off a visit to the dental clinic to have your teeth examined, now is the time to make a dental hygiene appointment.

Visit Westwood Dental in Malton, Ontario, or call us at today to schedule an appointment and start your journey to healthier teeth.

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