Oral Health and Genetic Risk Factors

Are Your Cavities Hiding From You?

In a perfect world, you'd take such good care of your teeth that you won't ever be bothered by tooth decay. This would put you in the minority (only 11% of Australian adults have never experienced tooth decay). Ideally, you would take care of your teeth and so wouldn't have had many cavities in total—and this is a more realistic proposition. But sometimes a cavity can remain difficult to spot yourself, and can often only be discovered during a dental examination.

Early Cavities

You can sometimes spot cavities yourself by taking a close look at your teeth in the mirror. The visible signs of tooth decay can start as discoloured patches on the surfaces of your dental enamel. These are called micro-cavities, and quick, intensive remineralisation treatment (involving doses of fluoride administered by your dentist) can sometimes prevent them from developing further (sparing you the need to get a filling).

Deeper Cavities

When cavities have gone beyond the micro, they generally appear as dark spots on your teeth. These need fillings as soon as possible. Delaying treatment gives the decay an opportunity to deepen, and it can eventually expose the tooth's pulp (which is its nerve). Should the pulp become infected, you can require a root canal (removal of the pulp), and the tooth will then need a dental crown. This is far more intensive (and costs more money) than a simple filling, so don't delay treatment.

Interdental Cavities

But these dark spots of tooth decay and discolouration which can indicate micro-cavities are the easiest to spot. Interdental cavities are another matter. The interdental parts of your teeth are the narrow sides of an individual tooth. These spaces cannot be self-assessed in the same way that the visible, outward-facing labial and buccal surfaces of a tooth can be. In short, an interdental cavity can go unnoticed until it's had a chance to significantly develop.

Interdental Cleaning

Dedicated interdental cleaning can be achieved with dental floss, a water flosser (using a jet of water to clean between teeth) or a specialised interdental brush. These methods are your best weapon against developing a problematic interdental cavity. But early detection is also vital, which is why it's important to attend each and every scheduled dental checkup. Your dentist has the ability to spot an interdental cavity long before you do, and they're simple enough to correct with a filling.

The physical location of an interdental cavity means this form of decay has the ability to remain hidden for quite some time—with toothache sometimes being your first clue. Be sure to take good care of your interdental areas and attend your regular checkups, which should help to keep these hidden cavities from becoming a problem. 

For more information about general dentistry, contact a local company.