5 Painful Facts About Cavities

Photo of a woman smiling showing teeth

You call a hole in your teeth a cavity. Your dentist calls it dental caries or tooth decay. Semantics aside, how much do you know about the second most common health problem in America?

Here are some painful facts about tooth decay that your dentist in Fredericksburg, VA wants you to know:

Cavities are a common chronic condition in the United States

An estimated 20 percent of 5 to 11-year-old kids have, at the minimum, one untreated decayed tooth. About 13 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years old have at least one untreated cavity. And by age 34, over 80 percent of Americans have had at least one cavity.

Cavities are not just for kids

Fluoridation of local water systems has helped reduce the prevalence of tooth decay. But adults can still get tooth decay. Factors that increase the risk of cavities in all ages include sugary foods and drinks, poor oral hygiene, poor eating habits, and genetics.

No pain doesn’t mean your teeth are fine

You should not wait for the pain to know that you have cavities. By the time the tooth starts to hurt, its nerve is involved and that means additional trouble. Visiting a dentist for a regular checkup is the best way to diagnose and treat or manage tooth decay.

Filled teeth can still decay

A filling can last a long time, but not forever. It can still wear down and expose a tooth to decay. In addition, a filled tooth can start to rot around the edges of its filling.

Tooth decay now, root canal or tooth loss later

If your tooth has signs of decay, you should visit a dentist as soon as possible. Otherwise, the decay can reach the tooth’s nerve. Eventually, the affected nerve will die and this might require either a root canal treatment to remove the nerve or extraction.

Only common cold affects more Americans than cavities. Proper oral hygiene, regular dental visits, and good eating habits are necessary to avoid tooth decay. Use of topical fluoride and dental sealants can further protect your teeth.