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Woman putting toothpaste on her toothbrush getting ready to brush her teeth in the bathroom

Cavities are one of the most common dental ailments, something almost everyone suffers from at some point. Cavities are tooth decay, in which the enamel, the protective covering of your teeth, is damaged. Cavities can be painful and, if not promptly treated, result in more severe problems and even tooth loss. A cavity filling replaces the lost enamel, preventing infection and any further damage to the tooth. Unfortunately, for something so widespread, there are quite a few myths about cavities. Let’s look at 5 of the most common ideas about cavities that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

1. Sugar is the Only Cause of Cavities

Foods and beverages high in sugar are a significant source of cavities. Dentists have long told patients to cut back on their consumption of soda, candy, and other sweets. However, sugary foods are far from the only cause of cavities. Any foods and beverages high in carbohydrates, including bread, pasta, crackers, and many types of chips, can contribute to cavities.

Excessive dryness in your mouth is another factor that can lead to cavities. Saliva contains bicarbonate, calcium, and phosphate, which help restore tooth enamel and neutralize plaque acidity. Certain medications, such as decongestants and antihistamines, can cause a dry mouth, resulting in a lack of saliva production.

2. Cavities in Children’s Baby Teeth Are Nothing to Worry About

You may think you don’t have to be concerned about cavities in a child’s primary or baby teeth, as these teeth will fall out anyway. But, unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Cavities don’t only affect a particular tooth—they can also cause problems with jaw structure, growth, and occlusion. In addition, bacteria infections can affect underlying teeth and cause crookedness and misalignment. For this reason, it’s essential to treat all cavities, even those affecting baby teeth.

3. You Always Know When You Have a Cavity

People often assume they know they have a cavity when they feel pain in a tooth. Unfortunately, by the time you feel pain, the cavity is most likely advanced and has caused a deep level of decay. It’s much better to spot cavities early on. What does a cavity look like? Cavity colors and sizes vary depending on the stage, so you won’t be able to see it yourself most times.

In the early stages, a cavity appears as a small white spot under the surface of the enamel. You can often treat early-stage cavities with fluoride and improved dental hygiene. A more advanced cavity will require a tooth filling. Therefore, it’s important to get regular dental checkups so that you can spot cavities as early as possible.

4. Cavity Fillings Only Come in Silver

The most common type of dental filling used to be amalgam, which is popularly known as silver fillings. Amalgam is a mixture of elements. In addition to silver, they contain copper, zinc, tin, and mercury. Nowadays, however, technology has advanced, and dentists use various dental fillings of differing materials, strengths, and colors. The varieties include:

  • Amalgam
  • Composite
  • Metals
  • Ceramic
  • Glass Ionomer

The type of fillings we use at Today’s Dental are determined by the location of the filling, visual aesthetics, and any financial or insurance restrictions.

5. Cavity Fillings Need to be Regularly Replaced

Fillings today are designed to be long-lasting. As long as you’re not experiencing any problems and your dentist doesn’t notice any signs of wear or cracks, fillings can last extremely long. In fact, many fillings today will last for decades! However, you can prolong the longevity of your fillings by avoiding certain practices. Teeth grinding, for example, can cause damage to fillings over time. Likewise, new tooth decay, which can be accelerated by a poor diet or lack of dental hygiene, can influence how long fillings last.

Best Practices to Avoid Cavities

No one wants cavities, but they are a fact of life for most people. You can, however, take steps to minimize them.

  • Watch your diet and reduce your intake of sweets.
  • Practice good dental hygiene. Brush your teeth and floss daily.
  • Get regular dental checkups. This will allow your dentist to treat any cavities before they can do serious harm.

Today’s Dental offers quality dental care in several convenient Omaha locations. To learn more about the best dental hygiene practices or to schedule an appointment, contact us.