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There are a few common causes for holes in teeth, including:
However, the main cause of holes in teeth is tooth decay. In the early stages, a cavity is a small hole in the tooth. This cavity will get larger without treatment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of adults 20 to 64 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth.3
Tooth decay is the breakdown of tooth structure caused by acids made from bacteria. Bacteria and food debris left behind from poor brushing create a soft and sticky film. It is called plaque.
When plaque builds up, problems arise, including holes in the teeth and even gum disease. Tooth decay can be a problem for people of all ages, including children, teens, and adults.
You may not know if you have holes in your teeth because tooth decay doesn’t always cause pain.
Here are the most common symptoms associated with dental caries, or holes in the teeth:
If you suspect that you have a hole in your tooth, call your dentist immediately. General dentists will use an X-ray to determine the extent of tooth decay.
Treatment options for tooth decay include:
It's important to address any problems related to holes in teeth immediately so they don't become worse.
Here are some complications associated with holes in teeth:
Although everyone is at risk for tooth decay, some are more likely to get cavities than others. These factors increase your chances of developing tooth decay:
Consuming too many sugary drinks and snacks increases your risk of tooth decay.
When you consume food and beverages high in sugar, the bacteria in plaque break down the sugars into an acid, creating holes in teeth.
In addition to bad oral hygiene, lack of fluoride can progress tooth decay.
Fluoride can even reverse or stop early tooth decay. It helps protect teeth by strengthening the tooth enamel and helping to make teeth more resistant to acids from plaque that cause tooth decay.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), children are at a higher risk of tooth decay than adults. Older adults also have receding gums and worn-down teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
Saliva helps wash away bacteria and keep your mouth clean. If you don't produce enough saliva, it's harder to remove plaque buildup on teeth. This leads to an increased risk of tooth decay.
Dry mouth can be caused by medications, certain medical conditions, or simply not drinking enough water.
We’re all at risk of tooth decay for our entire lives. Some easy things can be done daily to prevent cavities and plaque buildup, including:
According to Dr. Khushbu Aggarwal, one of NewMouth's in-house dentists, "it isn't just about what you are eating or drinking, but also how often. For example, it's best to finish a sugary beverage quickly and in one sitting, rather than sipping it throughout the day, because this minimizes the number of insults (i.e., pH drops) your teeth experience."
Fluoride is a mineral that can help stop tooth decay from progressing. It can also:
If your dentist thinks you need more fluoride, he/she may apply a fluoride gel or varnish to your teeth, prescribe fluoride tablets, or recommend a fluoride mouth rinse.
Ask your dentist about using supplemental fluoride, which strengthens teeth.
You can also ask about sealants, which are protective coatings that dentists can put on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth. This is the area where decay typically starts.
Sealants can help protect your teeth from decay. They’re typically placed as a child's permanent molars erupt, usually around 6 years of age. Sealants are placed on the back teeth, the permanent premolars and molars, and act as a protective shield in the grooves of the teeth.
Holes in teeth are one of the common health problems. However, they can lead to serious health issues if left untreated. It's important to see your dentist regularly and follow their advice regarding prevention and treatment.
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