A cavity is a hole that forms in a tooth that can lead to all sorts of medical concerns. Tooth decay can start small and gradually become bigger, more painful, and difficult to repair when left untreated. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people in the U.S. that are not having their cavities taken care of early on — especially kids.
In fact, 18.6% of children between the ages of five and 19 years old have untreated dental cavities across the United States.
According to HealthLine, the symptoms of a cavity depend on the severity of the actual decay. Symptoms of tooth cavities include:
- Black or white staining on the teeth.
- Tooth sensitivity.
- Tooth pain.
- A visible hole in your teeth.
Children and teenagers often consume foods and drinks with sugar, which mixes with oral bacteria and turns it into acid. Then, plaque begins to form on the teeth, eventually eroding the tooth enamel and forming a cavity. In addition to bacteria and acid, food particles and even saliva can lead to tooth decay and cavities.
The main cause of significant tooth decay, however, can be attributed to not maintaining proper hygiene. Whether you’re trying to help a toddler brush more or you’re hoping to alleviate some cavity-related tooth problems of your own, here are some great tips for dealing with and preventing tooth decay:
- Head to the dentist — It sounds simple, but far too many people neglect regular visits to the dentist — and it’s not because there aren’t any dentists available. In fact, from 2016 to 2026, overall employment of dentists in the U.S. is expected to increase by 19%, much faster than the average for all other occupations. It can be scary, sure, but not going to the dentist will lead to much more severe issues.
- Floss every day — Every single day. Cleaning between your (or your child’s) teeth will remove plaque that can otherwise lead to cavities, gum diseases, and other oral issues. Since more than 500 bacterial species can be found in plaque, it’s best to floss every day and prevent food debris, water, and other components from combining with all that bacteria.
- No more sugary treats — This one is incredibly difficult for children because candy is likely one of their favorite things. But it’s important to at least cut back on the number of sweets consumed. Instead, make the switch to sugar-free gum and dark chocolate. Sugar-free gum that’s made with xylitol promotes non-acidic bacteria, making it nearly impossible for plaque to form. And dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants that can stop bacteria from sticking to the teeth. In addition, if your family is among the 34% of Americans who eat out once a week, try to avoid ordering sweets after your meal.
It’s not going to be easy at first, but it will be worth it. If you’re serious about improving your dental hygiene, make sure you treat every cavity early on by heading to the dentist, floss and brush every day, and stop eating unhealthy and damaging foods!