Your tooth starts to hurt and you’re pretty sure you have a cavity. Several questions start to linger: Do you have to get it taken care of right away? Will it get better on its own? Will it get worse, and is there a way to prevent it from getting worse? To understand the answers, first you need to know what a cavity is, and then you can take several steps to help improve the situation.
A cavity is a tiny hole in the tooth that slowly expands over time. A cavity is caused by decay that occurs when acid eats away at the protective enamel on the tooth’s surface. Once that enamel is gone, the cavity slowly eats away at the rest of the tooth. Eventually, the cavity hits the blood vessels and nerves in the tooth, which is when you start to feel pain.
The best thing to do when you have a cavity is to go to the dentist to get it filled. However, if you can’t go immediately, there are some things you can do in the meantime to prevent the cavity from worsening.
Keep in mind that these steps will not get rid of the cavity. Cavities don’t go away on their own. Cavities slowly expand to the point where they can move into the pulp and pulp chamber of your tooth, causing you pain – which could eventually lead to needing a root canal. Therefore, try to get to the dentist as soon as you notice a cavity. Don’t wait to feel the pain.
Everyone knows that brushing is vital to keeping teeth and gums healthy. If you have a cavity, it becomes even more important. Brushing at least twice a day helps prevent getting even more cavities. When you’re brushing, focus on the cavity, trying to remove any food particles.
When your mouth is very dry, it allows bacteria to accumulate, which can cause cavities. Drinking lots of water will help keep your mouth moist and stop additional cavities from forming.
Fluoride prevents bacteria from multiplying and builds enamel, which helps make teeth as strong as possible to prevent cavities from forming. If you’re able to identify a cavity early on and apply a fluoride treatment, it can help slow the tooth decay.
Rinse With Salt Water
Salt water has been used for years to treat infections and wounds. It is effective because of its antiseptic properties. Salt water can also help destroy bacteria that cause cavities. As soon as you feel a cavity coming on, swish with salt water to help slow its expansion.
Avoid Refined Sugars
The worst possible thing someone can do if they have a cavity is to expose it to acid, since it can make the cavity worse. Cavities expand if they are surrounded by the acid in sugar. Therefore, if you have a cavity, you should try to avoid sugary foods and beverages. If you do happen to indulge in something sugary, rinse out your mouth with water immediately afterward. Better yet, brush your teeth and floss to slow the rate of tooth decay.
Chew Xylitol Gum
Chewing gum that contains Xylitol can actually do wonders for your mouth. Xylitol is a natural alcohol that destroys bacteria and fights off infections. If you chew gum that contains Xylitol after eating, it can help prevent the formation of cavities. But again, once you have a cavity, nothing can reverse the decay.
If you think you might have a cavity, it’s important to get it checked out before it gets any worse. Dr. Ernie Soto and his friendly staff are here to help with all of your dental needs in Broward County, Florida.
To make an appointment, give us a call at (954) 368-6264 or request an appointment online. We can help you achieve the beautiful and healthy smile you’ve always wanted.