3 Things You Might Not Know About Cavities

Chances are, you already know the basics about cavities and tooth decay. For example, you know that brushing several times a day and cutting back on sugary foods/beverages can help prevent cavities, and you know that a cavity is essentially a small hole in your tooth. But there's more to tooth decay than these commonly known facts. A few lesser-known facts about cavities could put you in a better position to detect a cavity or prevent them altogether.

Sugar Isn't the Only Culprit

You learn from an early age--perhaps before your first dental cleaning--that sugar causes cavities. And while this is true, the fact remains that there are many other causes of cavities aside from sugar. For example, acidic foods are known to wear away the lining of the tooth enamel, which makes the teeth much more prone to cavities over time. Therefore, even if you're eating healthy foods like fruit, your teeth could still be at risk. Furthermore, drinks containing sugar and caffeine (such as that morning cup of coffee or energy drink) are even more dangerous for your teeth.

They Don't Always Hurt

If you've got a cavity, you'll know because it'll hurt, right? Not necessarily. When a cavity first starts forming, it's generally small enough that it doesn't penetrate very far into the tooth. In fact, cavities that are caught early enough often haven't made it very far past the tooth enamel and therefore won't have reached any nerves. The result is a pain-free cavity. Therefore, just because you don't feel any pain or discomfort, this doesn't mean you don't have a cavity. The only way to know for sure is to see your dentist for an exam and perhaps a set of X-rays.

Sugar-Free Gum Can Help

If you're gone at work or school for a good portion of the day, you probably don't have much of a chance to brush your teeth in between meals. However, this doesn't mean you can't take steps to clean your teeth and protect them from cavities. Specifically, chewing sugar-free gum can help to dislodge and remove food particles from in between your teeth in the absence of a tooth brush. Furthermore, increasing your intake of water (especially after eating or drinking something sugary) can help reduce your chances of tooth decay. For added protection, consider carrying a small bottle of mouthwash in your desk drawer, purse, or briefcase to swish with after lunch. For more information, talk to a professional like Claremont Dental Institute.