The cavity is considered the most common chronic disease worldwide. In 2015, according to “The Lancet Global Burden of Disease Study,” 2.3 billion people worldwide were affected by dental cavities.
A cavity can cause immense damage to our teeth, resulting in high costs. Now, you may want to know how many cavities are normal or how to prevent cavities. However, this article contains the answer to some commonly asked questions about the cavity.
Table of Content
How Many Cavities Are Normal According To Different Age?
The term cavity comes from the Latin word “cavity,” which means “rottenness” or “decay.” It is a disease of the tooth. It can cause severe pain and discomfort. Also, it can destroy the tooth enamel. To prevent and contain cavities, thorough oral and dental care is essential.
This includes professional teeth cleaning, which should be done twice a year.
The cavity is a bacterial disease of the teeth. The three different types of cavities refer to the particular area of the tooth that is typically damaged by the disease.
Dental Neck Cavity
It usually affects older people over the age of 60, in whom the gums gradually recede. Cavity bacteria can particularly easily attack the then unprotected tooth necks.
Pitting or Fissure Cavity
It affects the chewing surfaces of the molars. In inadequate oral hygiene, plaque and food debris accumulate in the small niches and hollows on the tooth crown. These poorly accessible areas provide a gateway for bacteria to decompose the enamel.
It affects the smooth outer surfaces of the teeth (tooth surface). Here, plaque that has not been removed forms a coating in which cavity bacteria can colonize. This type of cavity is also usually preventable through regular and thorough dental care.
How Many Cavities Are Normal?
This is actually difficult to say. If you ask how many cavities are normal in children, how many cavities are normal for a 60-year-old, or how many cavities are normal for a 30-year-old, that is difficult to answer.
Depending on your cavity type, the number of average cavities can vary. But to give you some general data, we found that the average number of cavities between 20- to 64-year-old is 3.39. However, for 12- to 20-year-old, the average number of cavities in teenagers is 1.03. Children are more prone to cavities.
It is quite common to find 2 to 3 normal cavities in children on average. There is actually nothing normal or risky till you have exposed yourself in front of a dentist. So, it is highly recommended that, if you have any cavities infection, see a dentist.
He or she will tell you if the number of cavities is normal or not. Whatever the dentist says after examining you is the answer for how many cavities are normal for teenagers, children, or adults.
Stages of Cavity Formation
When you ask how many cavities are normal, it is important to know the development stages of a cavity to make you understand more clearly. First, plaque develops. This is a thin layer on the tooth consisting of bacteria. Those bacteria, then, process carbohydrates such as sugar from our food into acid.
It then reacts with minerals such as calcium in the tooth enamel. The minerals dissolve out, and a hole appears in the tooth. The damage spreads to the dentin (tooth bone) that lies beneath the enamel with further destruction. The dentin is crisscrossed by small blood vessels and nerves, which causes pain when damage occurs.
The dentist distinguishes the stages of cavity disease into four stages.
The so-called initial cavity is, strictly speaking, still a precursor of the cavity, but if left untreated, it will develop into a cavity. You can spot white, transparent, or brownish spots. The damage caused can still be partially reversed even at this stage.
The dental cavity is also called the enamel cavity. The enamel has significant defects in which food debris can be deposited when eating. This accelerates the progress of the infection. You will see some brownish spots on the affected teeth.
A deeper cavity has penetrated the enamel and already reached the underlying dentin. A toothache may occur for the first time at this stage. The tooth decay appears black or brown. Bad breath often develops as well.
A cavity in the pulp with an abscess in the root of the tooth is the final stage of the cavity. The disease has now reached the pulp, which is well supplied with blood and very sensitive. Severe tooth pain is often the result, especially in connection with inflammation of the tooth root.
Symptoms of Cavity
- Whitish to brownish discolorations on the teeth are the first signs of a cavity, which should be treated. The development of the initial cavity begins when minerals are released from the tooth enamel. With fluoride and good oral hygiene, the progression can still be counteracted at this stage.
- When the tooth turns yellow or brown, the enamel cavity is already present, and bacteria attack the surface to such an extent that a cavity develops. Dentists speak of the dental cavity when the hole reaches the dentin. This is when the teeth become painful when exposed to cold, sweet, or hot foods.
- The last stage is called the deep dental cavity. The destruction of the tooth has penetrated the pulp. When severe, persistent pain sets in, parts of the tooth can break off, or an abscess develops at the root.
Recognizing a Cavity
Cavity used to be called tooth decay. However, there is no decay process. Rather, it is the continuous breakdown of tooth substance. Gradually, a hole develops in the tooth. Sometimes a cavity is recognized by discoloration of the teeth or bad breath.
Tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks can also be a clue. A clear sign of the disease is a throbbing toothache or a slight pulling of the teeth. Especially the first stage of the disease will usually be recognized only by the professional dentist.
As mentioned above the dentist’s chair, the cavity can also be seen in difficult places to detect. Not least, for this reason, check-up appointments with the dentist are usually made twice a year as standard, rather than simply when treatment is evident.
Treatment of Cavity
Only in the preliminary stage of the cavity, the initial stage, can the tooth still “heal.” The lost minerals in the area affected by the cavity are compensated by applying fluoride varnish. The tooth surface is intact again.
The cavity must be removed from the damaged area, and the tooth must be sealed with amalgam or plastic mad filling. Treatment by drilling and subsequent filling is sufficient in the best-case scenario. For example, in worse cases, a root canal treatment or a dental implant may be necessary, or even the loss of the tooth may be threatened.
Cavity Treatment Without Drilling
If the cavity defect is not yet too advanced, an alternative to drilling and filling has been available for some time. The new method is called cavity infiltration or icon therapy. Here, an etching gel dissolves the carious tissue from the tooth and thus brings the disease process to a halt.
Then the remaining hole is sealed with liquid plastic (Icon). UV light hardens the resin.
The advantage of this cavity treatment is that it preserves the existing tooth structure. This is because, unlike drilling, no healthy tooth substance is removed. The discoloration typical of the cavity disappears, and the treated tooth appears immaculately white again.
What Can You Do Yourself?
Teeth should be brushed thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. It is recommended to keep a distance of at least 30 minutes from the meal.
Dental floss to reduce cavity or interdental brushes to reduce cavity removes dangerous deposits in the interdental spaces and at the gum line, poorly reached places by the toothbrush.
Reducing cavities by brushing your teeth before going to bed is particularly important and effective.
The risk of tooth decay can also be reduced by proper nutrition. It is indeed beneficial to drink a lot because this promotes saliva formation and thus contributes to keeping teeth healthy.
Sweet and acidic beverages are harmful, however, because they can attack tooth enamel directly or indirectly. The consumption of some drinks like lemonade, fruit juice, iced tea, energy drinks, and soft drinks should be limited, as should that of highly sugary foods.
Fluorides can support daily dental care with fluoride gel applied weekly. Mouthwash for cavities should only be used as often as indicated on the bottle. In addition, fluoridated table salt is available for food preparation.
Since cavity can already occur in childhood, there are even fluoride tablets for babies. Fluoride varnishes are applied by the dentist when necessary.
Dental care chewing gums for cavities is not an alternative to brushing teeth. But they are a practical solution for when you are on the go. Sugar-free dental care chewing gums help after meals against acids that help the cavity release minerals from the tooth enamel.
They also increase the flow of saliva, which in turn helps the mouth regulate itself. However, chewing gums cannot remove plaque, which is the breeding ground for bacteria. Only the toothbrush can do that.
Due to its widespread nature, cavity disease is no reason to be ashamed. Take the signs seriously, such as bad breath and pain-sensitive teeth, and see your dentist. Because without any action, unfortunately, it will not get better. It will only be worse and more expensive.
Consequences and Complications of Cavity
Suppose the tooth’s natural crown is destroyed by a cavity to such an extent that a simple dental filling or inlay can no longer treat it. In that case, the dentist usually recommends a crowning.
If the tooth is damaged severely that even a crowning is no longer possible, the only option is extraction. The tooth must be extracted and replaced by a denture or an implant.
Cavity in Babies and Small Children
When you ask how many cavities are normal, we have already mentioned that it varies from age to age, person to person. However, as it is more common for children with cavities affected teeth, we provided some information here.
If children’s milk teeth are already affected by the cavity, the cavity can also spread to the second teeth. Milk teeth are softer than the second teeth, and children also absorb considerably more sugar through food.
This creates conditions for cavities. Therefore, dental care is important from the first tooth. Furthermore, the cavity can be transferred from parents to the child, for example, when licking the pacifier or the spoon.
Typical for small children is the so-called “teat bottle cavity.” The cavity mainly appears on the incisors and the adjacent gums. It progresses to the edges of the teeth. The cause, in this case, is usually the popular sugary teas, which are preferably drunk from the bottle.
Is cavity contagious?
Yes, the cavity is contagious. However, the risk is lower when kissing because cavity bacteria are transmitted via saliva. But healthy, well-cared-for teeth can handle them.
Why do cavities develop despite dental care?
Despite all the care taken in carrying out daily dental care, plaque can remain in hard-to-reach places. Under unfavorable circumstances, the cavity will form here in the further course of time.
That is because dental prophylaxis includes thorough tooth cleaning with professional instruments. Nevertheless, it is hardly possible to completely rule out the cavity. This is because harmful bacteria in the oral cavity cannot be completely removed.
Which toothpaste for the cavity?
Dentists usually recommend the use of fluoride toothpaste. The fluorides it contains can counteract demineralization of the tooth enamel in the early stages of the disease and thus prevent the cavity bacteria from advancing into the tooth.
Can cavities be cured?
The disease is not curable so far. Only in the early stages can the areas where demineralization of the enamel has already begun be successfully treated. But even advanced cavities can be treated well, and its further spread slowed down considerably.
Is there a predisposition to the cavity?
The cavity is not hereditary. However, the dental disease can run in families. The reasons are often similar habits in oral hygiene or diet. The bacteria that cause cavities are transmissible from person to person. For example, a newborn baby can be infected by its own mother.
The earlier you make an appointment at the dentist’s office, the better it is for the health of your teeth. As mentioned above, only a dentist can say how many cavities are normal for you. If the first symptom of the cavity appears, such as dark discoloration on the tooth or even tooth pain, the dentist will act immediately.
In that way, you can save as much healthy tooth structure as possible. Once the carious lesion has been removed, the progress of the disease at this site is stopped for a long time.