Cavities… nobody likes to think about them and they’re one of the leading causes of dental anxiety. Our dentists have found that the more our patients know about the health of their teeth, the more confident they feel. By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll learn:

  • What causes cavities
  • How to minimize your risk of tooth decay
  • How our dentists recognize and treat cavities

Let’s get started!

So, what are cavities?

Cavities are the result of tooth decay. OK, that doesn’t really explain much does it? Let’s take a step back and think about what happens in our mouths every day.

Literally billions and billions of bacteria live in your mouth. Don’t worry, the overwhelming majority of them are helpful and aid in the digestion of food. But some “bad” bacteria can cause gum disease or other health problems.

All bacteria have something in common — all they do is eat and reproduce.

The bacteria in your mouth rely on the food you eat for energy. When bacteria eat, they excrete acid as a waste product. Over time, this acid can wear away at the enamel of your tooth, leading to a cavity.

How common are cavities?

In their lifetimes, nearly 95% of people will get a cavity. Your risk of getting a cavity can be influenced by:

  • Genetics
  • Diet and lifestyle
  • Dental health habits 

While you can’t control your genetics, there are ways to reduce your risk of cavities and tooth decay.

Healthy diet

Bacteria love simple sugars, like those found in juices, soda, candy, and many other foods. While it’s OK to enjoy these foods and drinks in moderation, a healthy diet high in vegetables and fiber can really help reduce your risk of cavities.

It’s also important to minimize snacking. Frequent snacking produces a constant food source for bacteria. In fact, the more often you eat the higher your risk of cavities might be.

At-home dental care

In addition to a healthy diet, developing outstanding at-home dental care habits is essential to reducing your risk of cavities. Our dentists recommend:

  • Brush 2x a day for 2 minutes using a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Floss daily — at your next checkup ask your hygienist for flossing tips!

Don’t skip your checkups and cleanings

Sometimes bacteria form sticky plaque that can be hard to remove through brushing and flossing alone. Bacteria can also “hide” between teeth and other hard to clean spots in your mouth. Regular dental checkups and cleanings help remove plaque and monitor your teeth for possible decay and small cavities.

What happens if you get a cavity?

Because cavities are so common, it’s important to detect and treat them early. Some cavities may eventually require a root canal or even a tooth extraction, particularly if they’re left untreated. But when a small cavity is detected early, our dentists use small tooth-colored fillings to fix cavities and stop decay.

If you’re nervous about getting a filling, don’t worry. We offer a variety of sedation options to ensure your comfort throughout your visit to Austin Dental.

Frequently asked questions about cavities

Are cavities in baby teeth a big deal?

Keeping a child’s baby teeth healthy and free of decay is very important. 

If a baby tooth gets a cavity, it must be treated to avoid painful toothaches and serious infections. If a cavity in a baby tooth is left untreated, the tooth might have to be removed. When a baby tooth is removed before it falls out on its own, other teeth can become crooked and misaligned.

Additionally, a child who gets a lot of cavities may not be developing good at-home brushing habits and may end up with a fear of the dentist.

Are silver fillings dangerous?

Silver fillings are safe. However, they’re not as good as the modern tooth-colored fillings available at Austin Dental. Compared to silver fillings, tooth-colored fillings are:

  • More durable
  • Less noticeable
  • Smaller — less natural tooth structure has to be removed

Plus tooth-fillings actually strengthen your tooth and provide protection against future chips, cracks, and fractures.

Does getting a filling hurt?

Our dentists and staff work to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible throughout your visit and offer a variety of sedation options. Plus, because we aim to catch cavities early, our fillings are smaller and take less time to complete. You’ll be in and out before you know it!

Come see us at Austin Dental

We know how hard it is to find someone you can trust with your whole family’s oral health. Get started today by scheduling an appointment, meeting your dentist, and working together to achieve your healthiest smile.

See for yourself and find out how good your dentist can be!