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Cavities are very common in both adults and children. In fact, tooth decay is the world’s second most prevalent disease, after the common cold. We hope that none of our patients ever have to experience the pain and inconvenience of a cavity. However, if you do get a cavity in your lifetime, it’s important to know what to expect. Cavities give many warning signs before progressing to the next stage. We’ve outlined the life cycle of a cavity, so that you can spot one developing, and prevent it from causing serious damage.

#1 The early signs of decay

Tooth decay is caused when enamel is worn down by acid in the mouth. Smoking, regularly consuming acidic drinks and sugary foods, and irregular dental check-ups all increase the likeliness of dental decay. When you don’t practice good oral hygiene, the sugars on your teeth build up, and bacteria begins to feed off them and produce acid. These bacteria, food particles and saliva combine to form plaque and dull spots on the surface of the tooth.

At this stage, so long as you practice regular cleaning and good oral hygiene, it’s fairly easy to get rid of this plaque and stop these dull spots from forming into a cavity.

#2 The damage of a tooth

The plaque starts to thin as the enamel wears away. Eventually this hole will go deep enough to break the enamel surface and expose the dentin underneath. This is when the hole officially becomes a cavity. From here, the tooth will decay more rapidly, and the cavity will get larger and deeper. Cavities at this stage usually aren’t painful. This is why regular check-ups are essential, as often you won’t know if a cavity is developing.

#3 The beginning of pain

After the tooth erodes the enamel, it starts to erode the dentin. This will bring the nerve of the tooth closer to the surface, and will make your tooth extremely sensitive. As soon as you feel discomfort you should visit your dentist. As long as the decay hasn’t gotten past all of the dentin, you can still repair the tooth with a filling.

#4 The start of infection

If food and bacteria get caught in a cavity, it can be difficult to get them out. If these food particles stay in the tooth for too long, it can lead to infection – of both the tooth and of the surrounding bone. As you can imagine, this is incredibly painful! If this happens you should visit your dentist immediately to clear up the infection. A root canal – or even tooth extraction – might have to be performed as a last resort.

#5 The final treatment

As you can see, it’s far better to get treated for a cavity early on. While small cavities can be easily dealt with, large ones require much more extensive treatment, and end up being more painful and expensive for you. The best way to prevent cavities is by sticking to a good oral hygiene routine, and by visiting your dentist regularly. If you are experiencing any pain, or if it’s about time for a checkup, book your appointment with Whistler Dental today.

THE TOP 5 DENTAL MYTHS BUSTED!

Like any topic, there is a lot of information out there (especially on the internet) and sometimes it’s hard to decipher if the information is true or not. Here we debunk some of the most infamous dental myths by dropping some truth bombs on these hotly debated dental topics. Here at Whistler Dental, we care about the oral health of our Whistler community so want to make sure that you have your facts straight when it comes to taking care of your teeth!

DENTAL MYTH # 1- ADULTS ARE TOO OLD TO HAVE BRACES

Not anymore! Although metal braces are not aesthetically appealing to most adults there are now modern solutions to fix crooked teeth and create stunning smiles (for people of all ages!). You are never too old to wear a smile you are confident about. Here at Whistler Dental, we use a fantastic braces alternative called Invisalign which slowly moves teeth into shape using clear and undetectable aligners. Adults can now achieve their ideal smile without having to sport a set of bulky metal braces.

DENTAL MYTH #2- DENTAL X-RAYS ARE DANGEROUS

Although we wouldn’t recommend having an x-ray just for the fun of it, there is a lot of over blown hype about the dangers of dental x-rays. The average person is exposed to 3,100µSv of radiation per year and the average full mouth dental x-ray contains a mere 34.9 to 170.7µSv; in fact, a dental x-ray contains about the same radiation as eating 50 bananas! The importance of having dental x-rays to identify and examine potential problems far outweighs the negligible radiation from x-rays.

DENTAL MYTH #3- SUGAR IS THE MAIN CULPRIT BEHIND CAVITIES

There is no denying that consuming sugar leads to dental decay and cavities in most people but there are often other more significant contributors that fly under the radar. The direct cause of tooth decay is more a genetic and environmental combination which causes a greater propensity towards cavities. Genetic and environmental factors affect tooth enamel, oral bacteria populations, and saliva composition. Sugar can cause the increase of bacteria in your mouth that causes cavities, but genetics and the environment are more likely to determine if this bacteria will cause cavities or not.

DENTAL MYTH #4- VANITY IS THE ONLY REASON FOR COSMETIC DENTISTRY

We regularly perform cosmetic dentistry at Whistler Dental and let us tell you, vanity is hardly the motivator for these treatments. Cosmetic dentistry is often an investment for overall health and wellbeing improvements and many treatments are recommended to enhance better overall oral health. Aligning a bite and replacing missing teeth with implants to maintain bone structure are examples of orthodontic and cosmetic procedures that provide a cosmetic solution to a problem and at the same time increase overall health and wellbeing.

DENTAL MYTH #5- YOU DON’T NEED TO BRUSH BABY TEETH

Just because baby teeth have a shorter lifespan than adult teeth doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be brushed! Not only does starting to brush a child’s teeth when young (from the occurrence of their first tooth) instill good habits, but it’s absolutely imperative to avoid painful dental implications, cavities, and gum problems in pre-school aged and young children. Children usually lose their last few teeth at the age of twelve. Brushing baby teeth is absolutely important and should never be deferred until children have their adult set.

Have any other questions about dental care, or additional dental myths you’d like addressed? Make sure to contact us at Whistler Dental, we’d be happy to help!