Do Cavities Always Hurt?

man wth a beard wearing a denim jacket holding his jaw with tooth pain

If you’ve been to the dentist and found out you have one or more cavities, you may have thought, “Surely I would’ve known or felt something if that were true.” The fact is, you won’t always feel a cavity when you have one. It all depends on how far along your tooth decay is. Let’s take a dive into how cavities feel as well as what other things might cause toothaches besides cavities!

How Cavities Feel

When you have an early-stage cavity, the decay has only gone so far as your tooth enamel, or the outside layer of your teeth. Chances are you won’t feel anything with a cavity like this. But, when the decay gets worse and burrows down into the inner portions of your tooth where there are soft tissues and nerves, that’s when you can start to feel something. This might just be a little sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, it could be a mild ache, or it could be severe pain.

Other Causes of Tooth Pain

Yes, while serious cavities are a common cause of tooth pain, they’re not the only cause. There are a number of other dental conditions that might result in a not-so-pleasant ache in your mouth. For example, if you have a condition called bruxism where you grind your teeth, that pressure could cause sore gums and jaw pain. A cracked tooth and tooth sensitivity from receding gums can also result in tooth pain.

Since cavities may not always hurt, it’s a good idea to keep up with your regular visits to the dentist so they can keep an eye on developing issues. After all, you want to catch any problems BEFORE they start causing you pain so you don’t have to deal with something more serious.

To schedule your next dental appointment, contact Henson Family Dental today. We’d love to look after your smile, and we’re happy to answer any additional questions you might have about cavities and cavity prevention!

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Can Baby Teeth Get Cavities?

Many don’t think about the health of baby teeth. The assumption is that since baby teeth eventually fall out, they don’t need to be cared for. Nothing could be less true. Baby teeth are especially prone to cavities. In fact, by the age of five, 60 percent of children have had a cavity. Baby teeth are important and need to be cared for to set kids on a healthy path for life.

young girl showing off her baby brother's teeth and smile

Cavities & Baby Teeth

Baby teeth are susceptible to tooth decay for a number of reasons. First, children tend to not brush properly or for long enough. They may fight parents on allowing them to brush. Young children often don’t floss. This can also lead to food particles becoming stuck in between teeth and leading to plaque and tartar. Finally, children tend to love sweet treats. Many of the foods marketed to children are processed snacks like crackers, cookies, and cereal. All of these early childhood staples are hazardous for the health of teeth, especially if proper dental hygiene is lacking.

How to Prevent Cavities in Baby Teeth

For starters, don’t underestimate the importance of baby teeth or dental hygiene for young kids. We set our children up for a lifetime of healthy teeth if we begin and teach good habits early. Bring your child in for a dental appointment as soon as they turn a year old or get their first tooth. Make sure they are brushing twice a day, especially before bed. If they are under the age of six, you’ll need to help make sure they are brushing properly and for long enough. Choose snacks for your child that are low in refined starches and not overly processed. Vegetables, grains, fruits, and lean protein sources are best. Save sweets for special occasions only, and always make sure to brush after.

What to Do If Your Child Has a Cavity

If your child complains of tooth pain or you suspect they may have a cavity, call our office. We will get them seen as soon as possible. Because children’s cavities are common, we are highly experienced in helping. Treatment for a cavity is easy and painless if caught early. Don’t delay getting a cavity checked out. In a baby tooth, infection and abscess could develop and damage the health of the permanent teeth that have yet to grow in.

Contact us today if it’s time to schedule your little one for a dental appointment. We make sure our smallest patients feel comfortable and have fun when they’re with us. We’ll see you soon!

Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?

Brunette girl in a wet white shirt drinks from a stream of water flowing from a stone fountain

At Henson Family Dental, we know how important it is to establish healthy dental habits in your kids from a young age. Encouraging your children to brush twice daily for two minutes each time, floss each day, and visit our office regularly can ensure that their developing teeth grow healthy and strong. Often, parents ask Dr. Henson and our team about the safety of using various dental products on their children. Fluoride is a topic that frequently comes up, so today we want to talk about why fluoride is a safe, effective tool for fighting cavities in patients of all ages.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral that can be found in the earth’s crust. Many communities add fluoride to their drinking water for its cavity-fighting benefits. Fluoride helps strengthen teeth by hardening enamel both in children and adults.

How Does Fluoride Work?

Fluoride works through a process called remineralization. After you eat, acids produced by bacteria that consume food particles begin to wear away at enamel. Over time, this process can result in cavities. Fluoride deposits calcium and phosphorus, minerals that work to strengthen enamel before cavities can develop.

Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?

Yes, fluoride is safe for children in small amounts. If you live in an area where fluoride is added to the water supply, your kids will receive the benefit each time they take a drink of water. As your child develops their first teeth, Dr. Henson may recommend a toothpaste with additional fluoride depending on their needs.

Occasionally, young patients develop fluorosis as a result of ingesting too much fluoride. If you notice small white spots on your kid’s teeth, this may be fluorosis. However, if your children are using the correct amount of fluoride toothpaste to brush and spitting it out, the chance that they will develop fluorosis is very low – and the chance that fluoride will protect them against cavities is very high.

To ask our team any additional questions about the safety of fluoride or to schedule your next appointment, contact us today!

5 Tooth-Healthy & 3 Tooth-Decaying Foods

The healthier you eat, the healthier your teeth! Here are five foods that promote superb oral health, as well as three snacks we recommend limiting to maintain a happy, healthy smile.

5 Tooth-Healthy Foods

Block of cheese with a big wedge cut out filled with calcium to promote healthy teeth

1. Cheese

Cheese is a terrific boost for your teeth because it’s high in calcium, which promotes strong teeth. Cheese also contains a protein called casein that strengthens tooth enamel and acts as a buffer against acids and bacteria that lead to tooth decay. Calcium also stimulates saliva production and replaces important minerals that your teeth may have lost.

Aerial view of cluster of red apples with yellow highlights that help keep teeth clean with fibrous texture

2. Apples

Apples are a great snack because of their fibrous texture. Chewing on apples stimulates your gums, and increases your saliva flow, which neutralizes acids in your mouth and washes away food bacteria.

Closeup of silver colander filled with leafy greens that support healthy teeth

3. Leafy Greens

Full of vitamins and minerals, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli are high in calcium, which helps build tooth enamel. They also contain folic acid, which has numerous health benefits, such as reducing gum inflammation.

Aerial view of brown almonds in a white custard cup that promote healthy teeth

4. Almonds

Almonds satisfy your crunchy craving guilt-free because they’re low in sugar and high in protein and calcium, which helps keep your teeth strong and reduces the risk for tooth decay.

Cluster of orange carrots with green stems that promote saliva production when eaten

5. Carrots

Carrots are another yummy food to munch on because they are high in fiber and beta carotene, which is needed to make vitamin A, a necessary ingredient for when your mouth is forming tooth enamel. Eating raw carrots can also stimulate saliva production and wash away residual food particles in your mouth that can cause cavities.

3 Tooth-Decaying Foods to Limit

Aerial view of colorful candies in a clear jar on a marble counter

1. Candy

Whether it’s chewy or hard candy, the sugar in candy feeds your oral bacteria. When feasting, bacteria produce acid that dissolves enamel and makes teeth more vulnerable to cavities. Candy also easily sticks between teeth, which leads to plaque buildup. If you need to indulge your sweet tooth, opt for dark chocolate and be sure to drink plenty of water afterward.

Aerial view of orange Pringles chips that can damage teeth with sugar content

2 & 3. Potato Chips and Popcorn

It may be difficult to resist salty, crunchy snacks like popcorn and potato chips, but you should probably think twice before you reach for that next handful. Chip and popcorn particles often linger between your teeth and under your gumline (especially with continued snacking!) encouraging bacteria growth and gum irritation.

Ask our team for more dietary tips to promote a healthy mouth. How is the quality of your oral health? Contact us today to schedule a cleaning and checkup!