10 Fast Facts About Fillings and Cavities You May Not Have Known

Cavities and fillings FAQ

10 Interesting Facts About Dental Cavities and Fillings

How well do you know your dental cavity facts? Are you truly “filled” in on all the truths and myths about fillings? It’s never too late to test your knowledge and learn something new. Here are some interesting things you may have not known about them.

1. Sugar doesn’t cause decay—acid does..

Most of our patients are surprised to learn that sugar isn’t the cause of cavities. What sugar and other forms of carbohydrates do is provide food for bacteria that live in your mouth. The bacteria then turns that food into an acid that sticks onto the enamel surface and starts the process of decay.

2. Enamel contains no living cells.

Unlike your skin, your enamel doesn’t have any nerve endings. When acid-producing plaque attacks this nonliving structure, the enamel can do nothing to fight back or repair the damage. That’s why you need to maintain good oral hygiene and get regular dental checkups to catch decay early before the damage becomes irreversible. 

3. Fluoride can prevent cavities.

Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, can prevent early signs of tooth decay from progressing. This mineral seeps into the enamel and combines with the calcium and phosphate that’s naturally present in saliva, effectively repairing the outer layer of the tooth and making it more resistant to decay. Fluoride also makes it more difficult for plaque bacteria to stick to the teeth.

4. Fillings have been around for millennia.

Did you know fillings date back thousands of years? The first sighting of an oral cavity filling was a beeswax filling discovered in a 6,500-year-old human jawbone. Incredibly, though, mercury-based fillings were only invented in the 19th century in England, and it wasn’t until the 1930s that they made their way to America.

5. Cavities can form even in infancy.

Many people wonder at what age one may start getting cavities. The answer is simple: As long as you have a tooth, you can get a cavity. Recent research shows that babies can start to show signs of tooth decay from as early as 9 months without proper infant oral care. That’s why it’s important to begin good dental care habits for babies before their first teeth even appear.

6. Adults get more cavities than kids.

It may often seem like kids are more prone to cavities because of their love of sugary foods and the challenge of consistently maintaining a clean mouth. But it’s actually adults who are at a higher risk of developing cavities. Dental issues like dry mouth and lack of saliva production in adults allows acid-producing plaque and food remnants to stay on the teeth, usually resulting in tooth decay. However, it’s still important that kids keep good oral habits and regularly visit the dentist to maintain a cavity-free mouth.

7. Aspirin next to a tooth doesn’t relieve tooth pain.

Putting an aspirin on a toothache is like putting Tums on your stomach to relieve indigestion. It doesn’t work. In fact, the aspirin can actually burn your gum tissue and the inside of your cheek. This chemical burn usually looks like a whitish substance. The only way aspirin can help with a toothache is if it’s swallowed and makes its way into your bloodstream, where it can block pain signals from reaching your brain.

8. Fillings have a life expectancy.

The long-term durability of a tooth’s filling depends on factors like your dental hygiene, the size of the filling, and the quality of its fit. Composite fillings usually last around seven years or longer, while amalgam (silver) can last up to 15. Glass ionomer fillings have the shortest life expectancy of roughly five years. Sometimes you may need to get your filling replaced a little sooner if you notice a problem, but your dentist should be able to spot trouble early on during a routine checkup.

9. You won’t always know when you have a cavity.

Believe it or not, it’s possible to have a cavity without feeling any tooth pain. In fact, early signs of tooth decay are typically not visible to the naked eye. Dentists use a dental instrument called an explorer to check the crevices of your teeth for decay and X-rays to detect any signs of decay between the teeth. If you’ve ever had your teeth cleaned, you probably saw your hygienist start the exam with a small mirror in one hand and this tiny instrument in the other. With timely checkups, your dentist can identify cavities early before they cause any pain.

10. Dental fillings can save you money in the long run.

Tooth decay only gets worse over time. So the longer it goes untreated, the more damage it causes, increasing the likelihood of more-involved dental treatments like root canals, crowns, and dental implants. While these procedures may save or replace your natural teeth, a filling is the most cost-effective and least invasive treatment for cavities.

Book your appointment today!

At River Walk Dental, we’re here to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your oral health. Whether you’re looking for a dentist in Flower Mound who offers teeth cleanings and oral health checkups or would like to get “filled” in on your filling options, we invite you to book an evaluation with us. With our team of dental health professionals who genuinely care about your oral health, your appointments will always be positive experiences.

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