Are Cavities Really a Problem?

What harm can a little cavity do? After all, cavities are common — about 92% of American adults have had at least one cavity, according to the CDC. If they’re so common, they can’t be all that bad, right?

Actually, even a single cavity can wind up causing major problems — that’s true even if your cavity is tiny or doesn’t cause any pain. Located right in New York City’s Financial District, Downtown Dental Studio offers comprehensive cavity prevention and treatment options, helping patients of all ages stop tooth decay in its tracks. Here’s why cavities happen and how they can affect your health.

Cavities 101

Everyone knows a cavity is also called tooth decay — but how does that decay happen, and what can it do to your tooth? 

In a nutshell, a cavity forms when acids released by bacteria on your teeth begin to “eat away” at the hard shell of enamel that protects your tooth, eventually forming a hole leading to the “inside” of your tooth. Once that hole forms, bacteria enter your tooth — and that’s when the severe damage can start.

After eroding the enamel, acids work on the inner layer of material called dentin. Dentin is softer than enamel, so it’s easier for acids to work their way through. Most people start to experience tooth sensitivity once the acids work their way into and through the dentin, eventually reaching the susceptible nerves in the central pulp portion of your tooth.

The pulp is contained by the tooth’s hard outer shell. When the invading bacteria cause inflammation and swelling, the pulp can’t expand, so it winds up pressing on the major nerve inside the tooth, causing pain that can extend into your jaw. 

Health effects of untreated cavities

Pain is one of the significant “side effects” of having a cavity, but it’s not the only one. As the bacteria spread down your tooth, they can eventually infect your gums and your jaw bone, threatening other teeth. 

If you wind up losing your tooth, you can also develop eating and chewing problems that can interfere with nutrition. Many people find they feel very self-conscious when they’re missing a tooth, and depending on where the tooth is located, it can wreak havoc with your beautiful smile and even the shape of your face.

Aside from oral health complications that can develop, researchers found tooth decay can also lead to problems with your overall health. For instance, breathing in bacteria-laden air can result in respiratory infections, including pneumonia. Some decayed teeth develop abscesses, which pose grave dangers to your health. Some abscesses can spread, leading to infections of the brain and heart, as well as other life-threatening complications.

Even a single, small cavity can have huge implications for your health. The key to preventing these problems is to do all you can to avoid developing a cavity in the first place. And that starts with a combination of good home care and regular trips to our office.

Cavity treatment and prevention

Having twice-yearly cleanings and checkups is a critical part of preventing cavities. It’s also crucial for allowing your dentist to spot a cavity while it’s in its earliest stages. Treating cavities early means there’s less chance of significant damage, which means your treatment can be a lot simpler and a lot less costly. 

At Downtown Dental Studio, we offer an array of options for preventing and treating cavities, including fillings, crowns, fluoride treatment, and dental sealants. Don’t let cavities ruin your healthy future. Call the office or book an appointment online so we can tailor a treatment program just for you.

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