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UNDERSTANDING TOOTH DECAY

Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. Cavities, also called tooth decay or caries, are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks and not cleaning teeth well. Cavities and tooth decay are among the world’s most common health problems. They’re especially common in children, teenagers and older adults. But anyone who has teeth can get cavities, including infants.

Symptoms

  • Toothache, spontaneous pain or pain that occurs without any apparent cause
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mild to sharp pain when something sweet, hot or cold
  • Visible holes or pits in teeth
  • Brown, black or white staining eating or drinking on any surface
  • Pain when you bite down

Do You Know?

Foods that cling to your teeth for a long time such as milk, ice cream, honey, sugar, soda, dried fruit, cake, cookies, hard candy and mints, dry cereal, and chips are more likely to cause decay than foods that are easily than foods that are easily washed away by saliva.

Prevention

Good oral and dental hygiene can help you avoid cavities and tooth decay. Here are some tips to help prevent cavities.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste after eating or drinking
  • Rinse your mouth with fluoride
  • Avoid frequent snacking and sipping
  • Eat tooth-healthy foods
  • Visit your dentist regularly.

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