Cavities - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Cavities

Sensitive Teeth

If you occasionally experience a sudden flash of pain, or a mild tingly feeling when you bite into sweet or sour foods, or drink hot or cold beverages, you may have sensitive teeth.  In healthy teeth, porous tissue called dentin is protected by your gums and your teeth's hard enamel shell.  Microscopic holes in the dentin, called tubules, connect back to the nerve triggering pain when irritated by certain foods and beverages.  Dentin can be exposed by:

  • Receding gums caused by improper brushing or gum disease.
  • Fractured or chipped teeth.
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth.
  • Cavities

In most cases, a simple change to your daily hygiene can treat the symptoms of sensitive teeth such as:

  • Using a soft-bristle toothbrush to protect gums
  • Using a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth that can either block access to the nerve or insulate the nerve itself.
  • Using a fluoride rinse or gel for sensitive teeth, prescribed by your dentist.

Cavities

Cavities develop when a tooth decays or breaks down.  A sticky, slimy substance called plaque, is the cause and is made up mostly of the germs that cause tooth decay. The bacteria in your mouth make acids and when plaque clings to your teeth, the acids can eat away at the outermost layer of the tooth, called the enamel. 

To treat a cavity, we will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and then "fill" the area on the tooth where the decayed material once lived.  Fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have been worn down from misuse (such as from nail-biting or tooth grinding).

If left untreated, the decay may penetrate the root and enter the pulp (nerve) chamber, causing an abscess and requiring root canal treatment.

Today, the most common types of filling are gold; silver amalgam; or tooth-colored composite resin fillings.

Though cavities can be repaired, try to avoid them by taking care of your teeth.  Here's how:

  • Brush your teeth up and down in a circular motion two to three minutes each time.  It's easy to get in a hurry and run a toothbrush lightly around your teeth for 30 seconds or so.
  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after every meal or at least twice a day. Bedtime is an important time to brush.
  • Brush the gums with small, gentle circles as well as the tongue.  
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day to remove plaque and food that's stuck between your teeth.
  • Rinse with mouthwash after brushing.  Mouthwash can kill germs that cause bad breath and cavities.
  • If you can't floss or brush, at least rinse your mouth with clear water after eating.
  • Limit sweets and sugary drinks, like soda.
  • Drink milk.  The calcium in milk helps to build strong teeth over the course of a lifetime.
  • See your dentist twice a year for regular checkups.  The fewer fillings you need will ultimately prolong the life of your teeth.
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