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Cavities In Teeth

Most of us have sustained a cavity at some point in our lives. A cavity is, of course, a hole or breakdown in the structure of the tooth. While much of our dental health is determined by genetics, a major factor in developing cavities in our own dental hygiene. Poor tooth maintenance typically results in tooth decay, when the enamel is compromised by rot.

So how do we avoid sustaining decay – and cavities? Our best defenses are simple ones:

1. Visit the dentist regularly. Obviously, we need to see our dentist on a regular basis (experts recommend a visit every six months). Not only does your dentist clean your teeth professionally – with cleaning products and equipment you don’t have at home – but he or she can also diagnose your teeth and identify any problems that need to be addressed. A cavity is only made worse by missing dental appointments and allowing decay to continue undetected.

2.  Have your cavities filled. When a cavity is detected, the best course of action is typically a filling. Your dentist will first remove the decayed material from the tooth and cutting to create space for the filling. Then, he or she will fill that space with a restorative material. Traditionally, that material has been a metal amalgam, but today’s dentists tend to prefer using a resin-based composite made of plastic and ceramic for cosmetic reasons.

3.  Brush and floss regularly. Once you’ve left the dental office after your cleaning, the next steps are up to you. Proper maintenance of your oral hygiene is essential at keeping decay – and cavities – at bay. Even teeth that have already sustained decay benefit from this regular tooth care, and of course all of your fully healthy teeth need thorough cleaning. Brushing and flossing remove the food particles from the surfaces on and between your teeth and works to reduce bacteria growth.

What is dry socket?

Those who have had a tooth or teeth extracted are always advised to be mindful of dry socket. This is an injury that can occur to the healing site from where the tooth was removed, and it can be overwhelmingly painful. And according to WebMD, it’s experienced by about 2%-5% of patients who just had a tooth extracted.

So, what is dry socket? When a tooth is removed, it of course leaves a hole in the bone at the removal site. As with any wound, the body rushes into action, forming a clot at the site to prevent over bleeding and protect the hole. Dry socket occurs when this clot is dislodged or dissolves during the healing process. This leaves the wound in your jaw open and the nerve exposed to air and any foreign particles, like food, that come into contact with it. It results in severe pain that can last for days, as well as creating an opening in your jaw line that can invite infection. Treating the pain and cleansing the exposed extraction site can be an intense hassle as well. Simply put, you want to avoid dry socket at all costs.

Luckily, avoiding dry socket can be quite simple. There are several behaviors that lead to it, and by side-stepping them, you drastically cut your chances of suffering from this horrendous condition. Hard sucking, such as smoking or drinking through a straw, while the extraction site is healing can dislodge the clot and result in dry socket. Swishing or rinsing your mouth shortly after the extraction can do the same. In fact, spitting or performing any action that requires excess movement at the extraction site can have the same result.

It’s important to note that wisdom tooth removal is much more likely to lead to dry socket than removal of other teeth. So those who have just had wisdom teeth extracted are advised to be even more careful to avoid dry socket.