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Dental Caries


Dental caries

are also called cavities. Cavities are caused by bacteria. When the bacteria in tooth plaque (sticky film) mix with certain types of carbohydrate, this creates acid. The acid breaks down areas of enamel, which covers the outside of a tooth. This creates a small hole in the tooth called a cavity.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your face, jaw, cheek, eye, or neck begin to swell.

Contact your dentist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your tooth pain gets worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Signs and symptoms of dental caries may include the following:

You may not have any signs and symptoms if your dental caries have just started to form. When dental caries reach deeper parts of your tooth, you may start to feel pain. Hot or cold foods may also cause pain or make it worse. The pain may also get worse when you bite or chew.

Dental caries may be diagnosed by

your dentist looking at your teeth to check for signs of dental caries. Your dentist may use a metal tool to clean away plaque. This will allow your dentist to look at your teeth more closely. Some dentists check for cavities by touching parts of your teeth with the end of the probe. Your dentist may also use x-rays to find dental caries.

Treatment for dental caries may include any of the following:

  • Fluoride treatments may be given during dental visits or you may use products with fluoride at home. Fluoride can be found in the form of a mouth rinse or gel. You may buy fluoride with or without a dentist's order. Your dentist will tell you what kind of fluoride to buy and how to use it.
  • A filling may be placed in your tooth after the decayed portion is removed. The filling may help to protect your tooth from further decay.

Prevent dental caries:

  • Brush your teeth at least 2 times a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Use dental floss to clean between your teeth at least once a day.
  • Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after meals and snacks.
  • Chew sugarless gum after meals and snacks.
  • See your dentist regularly for dental cleanings and oral exams.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.