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If you are an adult living in America, chances are you’ve had a cavity at one time or another. In 2015, the Center for Disease Control released a statement that said 91% of Americans over 20 years old have had cavities at some point in their lives, with 27% of Americans over 20 having untreated cavities. Cavities are so common that we at Riverstone Dental want to help educate you about cavities so you try to prevent them in the first place.

What Are Cavities?

Let’s start with the basics. A cavity is another way of saying tooth decay, which is the destruction of tooth enamel. There are several different kinds of cavities, the most common being the coronal cavity, which occurs on chewing surfaces or in between teeth. There are also root cavities, which happen when we age and our gums recede to expose the root of the tooth. If left untreated, cavities can lead to even more serious dental issues such as an abscess, which is an infection at the root tip that can only be treated by a root canal, tooth extraction, or surgery.

What Causes Cavities?

Cavities are caused when foods with carbohydrates – bread, milk, soda, fruit, candy, and cereal – stay on your teeth. When these foods remain in your mouth long after you’ve snacked, the bacteria in your mouth turns them into acid. This acid, combined with the bacteria, food debris, and saliva, makes plaque that dissolves the enamel. Though cavities are often seen as an issue for children, adults need to be careful, as well, especially if their diet is high in sugar, salt, and carbs.

What Are the Symptoms of a Cavity?

Though you may think of cavities as things you can see, your dentist is really the only one who can tell for sure if you have a cavity because they develop beneath the tooth’s surface where you can’t see them. At your regular checkups, your dentist will probe your teeth to check for soft spots. They’ll also use X-rays to look between your teeth. If you’ve had a cavity for a long time, you could develop a toothache, and if a cavity is particularly bad you could see pits or holes in your teeth.

How Do You Prevent Cavities?

You can prevent the development of cavities by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially after meals, and floss at least once a day. You should also use toothpaste that has fluoride it in and use mouthwash to rinse out your mouth. Be sure to keep a well-balanced, healthy diet and stay away from sugary and starchy foods.

Finally, be sure to come in to see us for your regular check-ups and cleanings. Call us today to make an appointment!

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