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Most of us spend our entire lives hearing our dentists tell us about cavities and trying to prevent them, but many patients do not actually know what exactly a cavity is and why it is so important to prevent this dental disaster from ruining our smiles.

What is a Cavity?

Essentially, a cavity is a hole that develops in your tooth over time as a result of inadequate brushing and oral hygiene practices. There are several types of bacteria that live in your mouth, and most of them are harmless, but some bacteria can cause damage to your teeth. These bacteria live on the surface of your teeth and survive off of sugar left over from your snacks and meals. When these bacteria digest sugar, they leave behind an acidic byproduct that can cause tooth decay which will eventually lead to the holes that we call “cavities.”

Why Should I Care?

If left untreated, cavities can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms for patients:

  • Toothache — Perhaps the most pressing fact is that if a cavity continues to develop without preventative action, the cavity will make its way through all of the tooth enamel and reach the nerves in the inner layers of the teeth, causing significant pain in your teeth.
  • Pain While Eating or Drinking — Food is an important and often enjoyable part of our lifestyles. However, a cavity can make the experience of eating and drinking very unpleasant, making it difficult and painful for sufferers to have a normal meal.
  • Visible Holes or Pits in Teeth — We all want to have a great smile, but cavities do not always make this easy. If you begin to develop a cavity, you may notice significant holes or pits in your teeth that will make your smile much less appealing.

What Can I Do?

Many preventative steps can be taken to deter the progress of cavity development in your mouth. Maintaining regular and good oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing twice a day as well as regularly seeing your dentist for a cleaning will sufficiently cut down on the spread of cavities. If you already have signs of a cavity, you may need to have a filling or sealant to stop the cavity before it becomes too severe.

If you have any further questions about cavities or other dental issues or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. D’Alfonso, contact Lakeway Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry today.