Many people believe that only children get cavities. In fact, changes in your mouth as you age can make cavities more probable. Cavities are the result of tooth decay and can be caused when heavy carbohydrate foods like soda, fruit, candy, or milk stay on the teeth. The bacteria in the mouth will then turn these foods into acids. The combination of the bacteria, food remains, saliva and acid can form a sticky substance called plaque. Plaque then adheres to the teeth. Over time the acids from plaque will eat away at tooth enamel, creating holes called cavities.
Am I at risk for getting a cavity?
As we age, the gums naturally pull away from the teeth, leaving the roots of the teeth vulnerable to the plaque. If you eat a lot of carb-heavy foods, you are also more likely to get cavities. Sometimes seniors require excessive dental work because they didn’t practice proper oral care as children.
How do I know if I have a cavity?
Regular dental exams and a rigid at home dental routine is the surest way to keeping cavities at bay and discovering them if they are present. During your dental exam, your dentist will search for soft spots and use X-rays to investigate the area between the teeth. If you have a cavity, you may develop a toothache. These aching pains around the tooth typically occur after eating or drinking something sweet, cold, or hot. Other times, you may see holes or pits in the teeth denoting a cavity.
How do I treat a cavity?
Depending on the severity of your cavity, the treatment will vary. Often, the dentist will extract the decayed part of the tooth using a drill. The hole is then filled in with a silver alloy, porcelain, gold, or a composite resin. You might require a root canal if the pulp of the tooth is dead and cannot be recovered.