Imagine walking around with multiple holes in various areas of your teeth. This is the reality that many people who have cavities deal with everyday. Cavities are caused by tiny microbes that live in your mouth. These microbes continue to accumulate as you get older, forming communities of bacteria.
How cavities develop
Microbes continue to grow and populate depending on what you eat. The more sugar you consume, the more likely the microbes are to cause cavities. Bacteria use sugar as a molecular building block and also as an energy source. The by-products created by bacteria are in the form of acids such as lactic acid, which gradually degrades the outer coating of teeth (the enamel).
Acids then slowly penetrate the second layer of the tooth. During these early stages, you don't feel anything. The pain and other sensations typically set in when acids finally degrade the second layer of the teeth and reach the nerves. This brings about excruciating pain in the mouth, and eventually results in infection of the tooth. At this stage, the tooth may have to be extracted to avoid further spreading of the infection to neighbouring teeth or gums.
The more sugar your food contains, the more danger you put your teeth in. It is interesting to note that diets rich in carbohydrates may also expose you to cavities. This is because carbohydrates are broken down to sugars when exposed to enzymes in saliva. Some people are more susceptible to cavities due to their genes, which might cause certain weaknesses like softer enamel.
Cavities can be considered a dental emergency due to the excruciating pain that they cause, as well as damage to the underlying gums and nearby teeth. A cavity problem that goes untreated for a long time can significantly deteriorate your oral health.
Besides lower intake of sugar and starch, modern-day medicine has developed other ways of combating cavities. Most toothpastes and water supplies have a tiny amount of fluoride, which strengthens the enamel and makes it more resistant to acid. Tooth fillings are also used in damaged teeth to help repair them and prevent further infection.
The best way to avoid a cavity is cutting down on high starch and sugar intake. In addition, practicing good oral hygiene can help you get rid of bacteria and their food sources. This includes brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, and avoiding sticky foods that adhere to your teeth between meals. Regular dental check-ups will also ensure that a dentist examines your teeth and prevents the likelihood of cavities building up to emergency levels.