It’s likely that you or someone you know has had a cavity. In fact, you may be surprised to learn just how many people get cavities. But before we dive into the statistics, let’s learn a little more about what cavities are and how you get them.
What Are Cavities?
A cavity is tooth decay, which occurs when your tooth’s enamel, the protective outer layer of your teeth, is destroyed. The way this happens is that your oral bacteria eat the sugar in the foods and drinks you consume and produce an acid byproduct that dissolves the minerals in your teeth. Cavities often form in between your teeth, along the gum line, near dental fillings, and in the pits and grooves in the teeth at the back of your mouth. If cavities are not treated, the decay can spread to neighboring teeth and into your tooth’s pulp, a bundle of nerves and blood vessels. At this point, you will require root canal therapy to preserve your tooth. But decayed and infected teeth that are too late to save will need to be extracted to protect your oral health.
How Are Cavities Diagnosed?
You may not realize you have a cavity because you don’t have any feeling in your enamel and therefore can’t tell when it’s decaying. However, severe tooth decay exposes the underlying dentin, which contains tiny tubes that connect to your tooth’s inner nerves, at which point you will feel pain and sensitivity. But because it’s so hard to detect cavities on your own, it’s important to get a dental exam every six months so we can check for cavities in your mouth. The way we do this is by looking at your dental X-rays and probing your teeth to look for any pits or any spots that feel too soft because the enamel has begun to dissolve.
What Percentage of People Have Cavities?
In a 2016 study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over 90% of adults in the United States have had a cavity. They also reported that 1 in 4 adults have cavities that are untreated. You should visit us at Paradigm Dental every six months to confirm whether or not your mouth is cavity-free! We will also clean your teeth of a sticky film of accumulated bacteria called plaque, and tartar, which is hardened plaque.
How Can I Prevent Cavities?
If you don’t want to be in the 25% of adults with untreated cavities, maintain a healthy diet high in fibrous fruits and vegetables and low in carbohydrates and sugars, brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoridated toothpaste for two minutes each time, floss at least once a day, and get a checkup and cleaning every six months at Paradigm Dental. Call us at (512) 992-2822 to schedule an appointment.