The discovery of cavities on a clay tablet in the Sumerian text was around 5,000 B.C. The clay tablet, titled Legend of the Worm, told stories about tooth decay. The story was about tooth worms that drank blood and ate away at the teeth. Ancient India, Egypt, Japan, and China all had similar tales.
Greek doctors developed the humoral theory, stating that interacting acids cause cavities. These acids degrade enamel as a result. Other Greeks, including Hippocrates, Celsus, and Galen, believed tooth rot began inside the tooth.
The chemical theory began to catch on by 1835. Willoughby D. Miller, a professor at the University of Berlin, wrote in a report from 1882 that tooth decay is a two-stage, chemo-parasitic process. Dentin decalcification comes first, followed by the dissolving of the softened residue. Fluoride's association with a decline in cavities dates to the 1930s.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities or dental decay are the results of bacteria acids, which induce the destruction of the tooth enamel. Therefore, cavities are also known as tooth decay. The most rigid substance in the body is the tooth enamel, which serves as the outer layer and most noticeable component of the enamel.
A dental cavity can potentially obliterate the dentin, the layer that lies beneath the enamel. Dentin is an integral part of the teeth and the enamel, pulp, and cementum. Dentin is less mineralized than enamel, yet it is also less brittle than enamel.
How Do Cavities Develop?
Our mouth is home to hundreds of millions of different bacteria in colonies on our tongue, gums, teeth, and other mouth regions. Bacteria are not all harmful. Some, however, have the potential to cause tooth decay. Our dietary consumption plays a role in cavities and the germs that cause them. Our food and beverages are a source of sustenance for bacteria, particularly those that are starchy and sweet. They then consume the meal remnants in our mouths and release acids. In turn, these acids attack the enamel.
Imagine receiving consecutive punches without the opportunity to retreat. Without a doubt, you'll get hurt. That occurs when acids damage enamel before it can even begin to rebuild itself. Frequent acid attacks can damage the enamel and cause mineral loss. But if the attacks continue and the decaying process doesn't stop, minerals will die out. As a result, the enamel is worn away and eventually forms a cavity, permanently harming the tooth.
Fortunately, protecting the enamel is possible by maintaining good oral health. You can take further preventative measures by eating the right food, visiting the dentist every six months, and obtaining fluoride treatments and dental sealants. The following details will help you prevent getting a cavity:
- Proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss after each brushing, and use mouthwash to eliminate any leftover food. By adhering to these straightforward recommendations, you may prevent germs from growing within your mouth and release acids that erode the enamel.
- Use Fluoride. Fluoride slows the development of tooth decay by restoring lost minerals, avoiding mineral loss, and limiting the bacteria's capacity to create acid. So, make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoridated water and toothpaste are two ways to consume fluoride. Your dentist could suggest using fluoride gel, varnish, tablets, or mouthwash if your demands for fluoride exceed what water and toothpaste can provide.
- Eat the right food for your teeth. Particular food is not suitable for your teeth, so you should exercise caution when eating. Eat less of or stay away from sugary and starchy foods. As an alternative, eat meals that can increase saliva, as this is what will help your body fight off hazardous bacteria. The food that is good for your teeth are almonds, apples, and leafy greens. Your teeth will suffer if you consume alcohol, sticky foods, sodas, and fizzy beverages.
- Use dental sealants. Children are more susceptible to dental cavities than adults. Dental sealants can prevent cavities. They act as barriers and seal the chewing surfaces where decay mainly occurs.
- Avoid sharing utensils. It's good to share, but not always. For example, it would be best if you didn't share your toothbrush since it can spread bacteria.
- Visit the dentist at least twice a year. A routine checkup with your dentist will help prevent the worsening of a cavity through early detection. It will save your teeth, money, time, and pain.
How to detect a cavity?
You can quickly identify cavities by the stains on the surface of a tooth, which can be brown, black, or white. Holes or pits may be visible as well.
A cavity can cause toothache, tooth sensitivity, pain when biting down, or mild to severe pain while eating or drinking.
Depending on the extent and location of the cavity, symptoms may vary. It may also be invisible in its early stages, so regular dental checkups are essential for detecting the cavity while it's only starting, frequently invisible to the naked eye. A routine dental checkup includes professional teeth cleaning to remove plaque or tartar buildup.
What Happens If I Get a Cavity?
Treatment depends on the severity and overall condition of the tooth:
- Dental Filling. A dental filling procedure is the most common dental treatment for a decayed tooth. This procedure fills the space left by removing the decayed portion of the tooth with a restorative material. The dental filling is an amalgam, gold, porcelain, or composite resin.
- Dental Crowns. A dental crown can save an affected tooth from much damage. The dentist will remove and repair the decayed parts of the tooth and fit a crown for further protection. Crowns are porcelain fused to metal or gold.
- Root Canal. If the decay has spread to the pulp or root of the tooth and healing is no longer possible, your dentist will require a root canal.
How To Prevent Cavities
Although treatments are available, prevention will always be better than cure. Here are ways to prevent dental caries:
- Practice excellent oral hygiene. Your first defense against cavities will still be proper oral hygiene—brush and floss to wash away the food particles, leaving bacteria with no food to feed.
- Eat the right food. Food is an instrumental part of the process of tooth decay. So make sure to limit, or better yet, remove added sugar & carbonated drinks from your diet. Instead, eat food that can stimulate saliva production, such as cheese.
- Get sealants. Dental sealants help strengthen the teeth and provide another layer of protection.
- Do not share your utensils. Sharing is not always caring. One of the things you must do is never to share utensils, as this can result in the transfer of oral bacteria, which causes periodontal diseases. Aside from utensils, sharing a toothbrush is also strictly forbidden.
- Go to your dental appointment. Through regular dental checks, you can save your teeth as soon as possible. In addition, you can detect and treat an early indication of a cavity, sparing your teeth from pain, expense, and inconvenience.
How To Prevent Your Child from Getting Cavities
Before the second grade, up to half of American children had cavities. The fact that cavities outnumber asthma as the most prevalent ailment in children is even more concerning. So how can you avoid cavities in kids?
It all starts with knowledge. Once you know how cavities occur and what conditions trigger them to form, protecting your children from developing them at an early age becomes easier. The key is early prevention. Your child could be at risk as soon as their teeth come in. The earlier you start your children on these measures, the more likely you are to prevent childhood cavities.
Set a Good Example for Your Children
It's no secret that kids frequently imitate their parents' behavior. Dental hygiene falls under this premise as well. But for infants, this has an entirely different connotation.
Usually, babies don't have oral bacteria that wear down their teeth (or at least not much at this point) because they don't have teeth. However, their parents may expose them to oral microbes at a young age. Mothers, in particular, can pass oral bacteria to their children when they share eating utensils with them, such as spoons.
To combat this, parents should also check their teeth for any indications of tooth decay or other oral illnesses. They are less likely to pass on the same ailments to their offspring the healthier their mouths are.
In addition, it might be advisable to avoid sharing utensils at all. Make sure to wash and disinfect any cups or spoons you use for your child. Additionally, rinse the cloth you use to brush your child's teeth thoroughly if you also use it frequently.
A tooth-friendly diet can help you safeguard your child's teeth if you follow it yourself. For instance, giving your child's baby cereal some puréed versions of certain foods (such as apples and carrots) will help strengthen their teeth.
Make Use of Every Dental Opportunity
The adult permanent set of teeth usually takes the place of baby teeth. As a result, most parents choose to put off their child's dental appointments until they are around two years old. However, by this point, your child's teeth may already show tooth decay. But you may help them avoid childhood cavities as much as possible by accompanying them to their dental appointments.
Take them to a pediatric dentist while they are teething for a checkup. Based on their findings, the pediatric dentist will probably recommend a course of action to you. By following these recommendations, you can stop the formation of new plaque and catch any early signs of degeneration.
If the child is old enough, they might suggest a dental sealant to prevent cavities and protect already vulnerable areas.
Consider introducing fluoride to your child gradually as they grow. Fluoride will fortify your child's teeth against bacterial acid attacks in addition to the sealants. By replenishing the minerals lost during the day and stopping decay, fluoride also ensures that your kids are less likely to get cavities.
Prevention Is the Best Cure
Preventing an illness from developing in the first place is the best kind of treatment. This adage has so many different interpretations since it is so generally accepted. Furthermore, it still holds in terms of infant dental decay.
The AAP released A Pediatric Guide to Children's Oral Health in 2010. It included instructions on looking after one's primary teeth, particularly throughout critical developing stages. The handbook not only imparts knowledge but also promotes dental hygiene precautions. For instance, the section on feeding has recommendations for every feeding technique, including breastfeeding and sippy cups. One article also covers the use and benefits of fluoride varnish. Even children ages 0-3 years can get advantages from this treatment.
Fluoride varnish and good oral hygiene practices are excellent preventative interventions. In addition, dental sealants are yet another way pediatric dentists avoid dental cavities in infants' teeth. A dental sealant is a resin coating that plugs into any natural grooves or crevices in the teeth where food particles can collect. Cavities are typically more prevalent in these places. Therefore, covering them can reduce these occurrences.
Cavity treatment depends on your child's age and severity of decay
To treat a tooth that will eventually fall out may seem irrational. However, addressing cavities in an infant's teeth is still essential. If the injury is left unattended, it might result in more severe issues and excruciating pain. It then descends to reach their permanent teeth.
You might be wondering how pediatric dentists handle cavities in baby teeth. Your child's age and the degree of tooth decay will determine this. A dental filling often may repair minor cavities. Dental fillings are typically sufficient to repair minor cavities. The steps are the same as in a regular operation: cleaning the teeth, administering an anesthetic, and drilling out and filling caries. The difference will depend on your child's age. Younger children may be a little fussier and require stronger anesthesia to get through the procedure. Perhaps older children would do better with a local anesthetic.
The pediatric dentist for your child may choose one of two alternative treatments if the cavity is too severe or if the decay is too extensive for a filling to cover. The first is the creation of a dental crown, and the second involves tooth extraction. If the latter is necessary, your child may require a space maintainer to stop their permanent teeth from crowding the area.
Why Do My Children Keep Getting Cavities?
Children, particularly those with baby teeth, are more prone to tooth decay and cavities. Why? Baby teeth have weaker enamel than adult teeth. Other factors, such as poor oral hygiene, pre-existing health conditions, and diet, can also increase the risk of tooth decay. So, if you've been wondering, "Why do my kids keep getting cavities?" continue reading.
#1 Lack of Healthy Food. What you don't eat counts just as much as what you do regarding nutrition and oral health. Particular food can strengthen teeth and protect them from tooth decay. The infant teeth of your child are especially in need of this strengthening. A lack of these foods in their diet, on the other hand, could leave their teeth further defenseless against bacterial attacks.
The frequency of their meals is another factor to consider. By eroding the tooth enamel, acid is a significant cause of tooth decay. Therefore, your child is more prone to tooth decay if they regularly ingest acidic food or food that turns into acid. This danger increases if a consistent dental hygiene routine does not follow it.
You might want to check your kids' consumption more closely if you're wondering why they keep developing cavities. For example, do they frequently enjoy sugary snacks? Do they consume enough fluoride in their diet and water to maintain healthy teeth? By watching what they consume, they may be able to prevent future cavities. But what if they eat healthily?
#2 Health Conditions. Some circumstances make the mouth vulnerable to dental decay. Most of the time, our mouths have self-cleaning systems that keep them healthy until the next time we brush them. However, there are some circumstances; nevertheless, that might upset this balance.
One factor that disturbs this balance has a dry mouth. Numerous difficulties may result in this situation. These issues can include diabetes and mouth breathing. You might wish to have your child tested for additional problems if you discover they are susceptible to this disease.
However, a dry mouth restricts salivation, adversely affecting oral health. This salivary action helps wash away the stray sugars and food particles that make up plaque. Plaque builds up much more quickly without it. The damaged teeth are more susceptible to decay due to this accumulation.
Your child is at risk if they have a condition that makes them more likely to vomit. As we previously said, acid can erode the enamel, making the teeth more fragile. In addition, vomiting brings up stomach acids, which also rots teeth. On the bright side, frequently treating these issues reduces your child's risk.
6 Ways To Stop Cavities From Harming Your Child's Teeth
The majority of dental caries are preventable. However, tooth decay or cavities in their primary teeth affect 42% of kids aged two to eleven. In addition, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 21 percent of children aged six to eleven have dental caries in their permanent teeth.
Even more concerning is the fact that 23% of these kids had untreated dental caries. Children that are African American, Hispanic, or from low-income families are more likely to experience the latter statistic.
It is essential to have regular dental checkups at least twice a year to avoid cavities. However, according to the American Dental Association, only 64.6% of kids visit the dentist in Honolulu every six months. Just 20.3% visit at least once a year. Furthermore, just 4.4 percent of kids visit the dentist every two to three years. However, one out of 10 Hawaii children, or 10.7 percent, have not seen the dentist in the last few years.
However, regular dental checkups are essential because they enable people of all ages to identify early indications of tooth decay.
A facultatively anaerobic coccus known as streptococcus mutans is the cause of tooth decay. The oral cavity is a common location for this strain of bacteria. And unfortunately, they play a significant role in dental cavities. These bacteria create dangerous acid, which reduces the calcium in teeth and causes the tooth's surface to collapse, resulting in the formation of a cavity. Plaque buildup on teeth and enamel erosion are other effects of the bacteria.
Taking good care of your teeth is essential, especially if you have kids. Unexpectedly, tooth decay is five times more prevalent than asthma and seven times more prevalent than hay fever. Early adoption of good oral hygiene practices will reduce the likelihood of developing oral health problems as adults.
Aside from regular check-ups, the following can help your child avoid cavities:
#1 Avoid using baby bottles; only use breast milk or formula.
Give your kid a bottle of water instead of juice or another caloric drink. The development of your child's teeth will suffer the more sugar your child consumes. Sugar causes bacteria to generate acid, which harms tooth enamel.
#2 Avoid sharing utensils
Babies are born without harmful bacteria in their mouths. That said, using shared utensils is unsafe to give your baby's oral system an unhealthy amount of bacteria at a young age.
#3 No bottles while sleeping
The chances of developing dental caries increase the longer a beverage stays in your baby's mouth. So if your child drinks a bottle before bed, it is better to gently wipe their gums with a moist washcloth before putting them to sleep.
#4 Switch to cups when possible
Bottles increase the risk of tooth decay since they stay in the mouth for extended periods. But cups, particularly those with straws, have the exact opposite effect.
#5 Prepare healthy food, especially vegetables
After all, vegetables contain a variety of sources of vitamins and minerals essential for the growth of strong and healthy teeth. In addition, it will be easier to encourage your child to develop good eating habits if you consume a healthy, balanced diet from a young age.
#6 Teach and encourage oral hygiene by brushing teeth and flossing
Fluoride is another defense against dental cavities, but you should only use a proper amount of toothpaste. First, verify the toothpaste's packaging. Typically, this includes recommendations for both children's and adults' recommended doses. Next, examine the toothpaste's packaging. Typically, this gives guidelines on how much is appropriate for adults and children.
Primary teeth are temporary. They nevertheless contribute significantly to the growth of permanent teeth. They not only temporarily assist a youngster in eating and speaking, but they also influence how the permanent teeth develop in the mouth.