Dental Decay/ Caries/ Cavities all mean the same thing. It is a result of the bacterial attack on your teeth, which compromise their structure, eventually resulting in loss if left untreated. Unlike most other body parts, the teeth, much like the nervous system, lack the ability to auto-repair and need external intervention. Yes! The tooth cannot heal itself. Nor do only medications help treat dental diseases. dental diseases need treatments and maintenance.
The most common reason for cavities is the lack of a good oral hygiene regimen however, several other factors such as diet, genetics, physiology of the saliva, and pre-existing conditions also play a vital role in causing cavities.
What does being cavity-prone mean?
What does the term “cavity prone” mean? This means you are one of those who have decay in their teeth more than others. Usually, when you visit a dentist you always, unfortunately, find out that they have a cavity—sometimes even multiple cavities.
When 3 more than 3 teeth in your mouth are affected by cavities your mouth becomes cavity prone. Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. At times cavities may be visible and at times or they may be hidden between two teeth. Cavities, also called tooth decay or caries, are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks, and not cleaning your teeth well.
Types of cavities
The tooth is a unique structure where every surface is prone to decay to a varying degree. Depending on the surface under bacterial attack, the consequences also vary. The easiest way to understand this is by understanding the layers of teeth.
Infection involving the upper enamel
Enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth and the most resilient one as well. Intercepting decay at this level is the most ideal situation. Your dentist will simply drill out the decayed portion and replace it with a similar colored resin-based material.
Infection involving upper enamel and inner dentin
The second layer of the tooth i.e. The dentin is not strong as the enamel and decay spread through it rather rapidly in comparison. If intercepted in time, it can be preserved well by drilling out the decayed portions and replacing them with the resin-based material. However, if overlooked, it’s only a matter of time before the decay reaches the core of the tooth, which is known as the pulp.
Infection involving Pulp
Pulp is a network of blood vessels and nerve plexus that provide the tooth it’s vitality. Once infected, the only solution is to remove all of it and disinfect it from within. The process is known as root canal treatment.
Infection affecting surrounding structures:
Decay can not only affect the teeth but its surrounding structures. The bone and gums suffer in the process of neglection. The extent of infection in the bone determines whether the teeth are salvageable or not.
Infection causing life-threatening conditions:
Although rare, long-standing infections of the teeth spread to different parts of the head and neck known as “spaces”. Multiple factors such as compromised immune system, pre-existing conditions, etc. Contribute to the likelihood of space infections.
What causes you to be cavity-prone?
Excess consumption of sugary and sticky foods
A diet rich in carbohydrates makes you prone to tooth cavities. This is because the bad bacteria feed on the sugars and release acids that dissolve your enamel and cause cavities.
Failing to brush twice
Improper plaque removal from your mouth can cause teeth cavities as most of the bad bacteria reside in the plaque colonies.
Brushing anyhow and haphazard
Not brushing the right way can leave some plaque remnants behind and can onset the process of cavities.
Ignoring flossing your teeth
Flossing helps remove the bacteria and food between your teeth. Failing to floss can give rise to hidden cavities between two teeth.
Improper tongue cleaning
Most of the bad bacteria remain on your tongue. Failing to scrape your tongue can leave the bacteria in the mouth and can give rise to cavities.
Plaque and calculus buildup on teeth and gums
This is the main reason why you develop cavities in your teeth as most of the bacteria reside in the plaque colonies and calculus layer.
Food locked between your teeth
Failing to get your teeth cleaned every 6 months can cause the food to remain locked between your teeth giving rise to hidden cavities.
Food remains in the mouth for a long time
Food that remains in contact with your teeth for a long time gives enough time for the bacteria to release acids and dissolve the enamel to cause cavities.
Frequent snacking and a diet rich in carbohydrates
Not only the time but also the frequency of carbohydrate intake matters where cavities are concerned.
Excess consumption of acidic and sugary drinks
Acidic contents in the acidic juices and beverages make your teeth more prone to tooth erosion causing thinning of enamel and more susceptible to cavities.
breathing through your mouth can cause dry mouth and insufficient flow of saliva can make your teeth more prone to cavities.
smoking calls in for dry mouth, which again makes you more prone to cavities.
Some people are more prone to cavities due to genetics and poor enamel quality. Weak enamel makes your teeth more prone to cavities.
- Diabetes. Those with diabetes tend to be at a higher risk of developing tooth decay.
- Pregnancy and menopause
- Oral Cancer. Early detection of oral cancer can help improve your overall health
- Eating Disorders
How do you know if you are cavity-prone?
Cavity prone mouth can mean you have more than 2-3 cavities in your mouth. Look out for these sings and symptoms to know better—
- Toothache, spontaneous pain, or pain that occurs without any apparent cause.
- Small brown to black holes in your teeth ranging from tiny holes to large cavity holes.
- Pain spreads to the entire jaw and at times radiates to the ear.
- Tooth sensitivity.
- Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold.
- Unable to chew food properly
- Able to chew food only from the other side where there is no pain
- Unable to open your mouth completely.
- Visible holes or pits in your teeth.
- Brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth.
- Pain when you bite down.
What can happen if you ignore initial cavities?
Once the bacteria in the plaque have started releasing acids that dissolve the tooth structure and cause cavities, the disease only progresses. Just like any other disease in our body, dental diseases also only worsen if you don’t take the necessary step at the right time.
Simple teeth cleaning every 6 months can save it all. Failure of which cavities begin to form for which tooth fillings are required.
Ignoring cavities can lead to the progress of the infection to the nerve of the tooth indicating a root canal treatment. Further progression leaves you with an option of getting your tooth extracted and then replacing them with an artificial tooth. This process takes time, but the right treatment at the right time can save it all. Here are some dental problems you may see coming if you happen to ignore your cavities—
- Severe pain and sleepless nights in the future
- Swelling of the one side of the jaw
- Pus formation below the tooth and gums
- Jaw bone destruction
- Need for a root canal treatment
- Need for tooth extraction
- Need for implant in the future
Cavities in your teeth can make you prone to —
- Deep caries
- Grossly decayed teeth
- Tooth fracture
- Teeth sensitivity
- Severe tooth destruction
- Bad breath
At-home care to be cavity-free
Being cavity-free is not easy as just picking up a toothbrush. It’s not what it looks like and takes more effort, care, and attention towards your oral health. You can begin with these and take baby steps towards being cavity-free.
- Use the right brushing tools to brush your teeth
- Use a fluoridated enamel repair toothpaste
- Flossing and tongue cleaning should be done daily
- Use the right brushing technique and make sure to clean all surfaces of your teeth including the inner sides.
- Manage your meal time and avoid frequent snacking
- Rinse your mouth with plain water after anything and everything you eat.
- Include fibrous foods in your diet to flush out the food that remains left behind.
- Limit carbohydrates in your diet.
Which dental care products can keep you cavity-free?
Choosing the right products to keep your cavities at bay is very important. Choosing the products that help you protect your enamel is the most important thing. Look for products that are—
- Toothpaste – Fluoridates and enamel repair / enamel remineralization toothpaste
- Toothbrush– Soft- medium-soft criss-cross bristle toothbrush
- Mouthwash– Nonalcoholic anti-cavity mouthwash
- Gum care – Lauric acid-containing oil pulling oil to reduce plaque and bacterial levels
- Floss – Waxed coating dental tape floss
- Tongue cleaner – U-shaped / silicon tongue cleaner
The bottom line
Cavity prone mouth is when you have more than 2-3 cavities in your mouth. You can protect your teeth from cavities provided you choose the right dental products and take a regular teeth scanning. Choosing products that protect your enamel is a must (Click here to know more about your oral type – cavity-prone dental kits). You can now keep a regular check on your teeth without happening to visit a dentist, by taking a scan (DentalDost App) at the comfort of your home on your phone.
- Having more than 2-3 cavities in your mouth makes you cavity-prone.
- Ignoring your cavities can cause more serious problems and leave you with options like root canals and extractions followed by implants.
- You can protect your teeth by choosing the right dental care products that make your teeth more strong and resistant to acid attacks.
- Regular scans and teeth cleanings can keep your cavities at bay.