Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. If left untreated, they get larger and affect deeper layers of your teeth, according to www.mayoclinic.org. They can lead to toothaches, tooth sensitivity to hot and cold food and beverages, visible pits in your teeth, dark staining on the tooth's surface, infection, and tooth loss.
Cavities, also referred to as tooth decay, are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, consuming sugary drinks, and not cleaning your teeth well. Regular dental visits and good dental hygiene habits are your best protection against cavities and tooth decay. Anyone with teeth, even infants, can get cavities. The Mayo Clinic lists several factors that can increase the risk for tooth decay:
1.) The location of the tooth. Molars and premolars, in the back of the mouth, have lots of grooves and uneven surfaces that can collect food particles. They’re harder to clean, and this results in more plaque and bacteria that produce acid that destroys tooth enamel.
2.) Certain foods and beverages. Foods that are less likely to be washed away by saliva cling to the teeth for a long time, leading to bacteria growth. Milk, ice cream, honey, sugar, soda, cookies, hard candy, and chips are examples.
3.) Frequent snacking. Constant snacking provides more fuel to your mouth’s acid-producing bacteria.
Suggestions for cavity prevention include brushing and flossing your teeth adequately, getting enough fluoride, increasing saliva production (chewing sugar-free gum can help), getting worn fillings or dental devices fixed, and getting help for an eating disorder or heartburn, both of which allow stomach acid to flow into the mouth.
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