Are you wondering how to identify a cavity on side of molar and what to do about it?
Everyone desires a beautiful smile in this appearance-driven world. To always look their best, people tend to only focus on their front teeth and making sure that they look like pearly whites. Not much attention is being paid to the molars, which are in the back part of your mouth.
Because molars are way in the back, people do not act as quick to fix cavities in them compared to cavities in the front teeth.
But just because your molars can barely be seen when you smile or speak does not mean you can neglect them. They play a key role when it comes to the function and health of your teeth. So if you notice that there is something wrong with your molars, you better act on it as quickly as you can – especially when the cavity is on the side of the molar.
What are molars?
Everybody has 12 molars. There are three on each side on the top and bottom. The molars are wider, larger, and flatter than the front teeth. Because they are bigger, they are the teeth that you use to chew and grind your food. Another important role that these back teeth play is that they support some of the facial bones.
Why you should care about your molars
As mentioned earlier, most people do not pay attention to their molars because they are out of sight. But you should pay more attention to them when you are cleaning your teeth.
Because your molars are way on the back, they can be difficult to clean thoroughly. Your molars have deep grooves and crevasses and over time, food debris, bacteria, and plaque can collect in them. When this happens, you are at risk of getting gum disease and tooth decay.
Since you are using your molars to chew and grind your food when you eat, they are always exposed to acids. This means they have more exposure to wear and tear too.
All of these issues combined can lead to the creation of cavities in the molars.
What are cavities?
Cavities, or tooth decay, are permanent damage to the surface of your teeth. They start as tiny openings that eventually develop into holes.
Cavities are a very common dental problem. A lot of children, teens, and older adults get it. Anyone can have it – even babies!
Once you notice that tooth decay is starting to form in your teeth, you should treat them as soon as possible. The longer the cavities are left on your teeth, the larger they get and they start to deteriorate through the deeper layers of your teeth.
Later, you will start getting frequent toothaches and this can lead to infection and tooth loss.
How to tell if you have tooth decay
The signs and symptoms of cavities vary from one person to the next. It usually depends on the extent of the damage and where the cavity is located.
In fact, in the beginning, you will not notice it at all. To treat tooth decay right away, you should look out for the following signs:
- Tooth sensitivity when eating or drinking something sweet, cold, or hot
- Seeing visible cracks or holes in your teeth
- Pain when biting
What happens when you have cavities?
Cavities happen over time. It starts when plaque forms. Plaque is a clear and sticky film that coats your teeth when you are not cleaning them well and you keep eating sugars and starches. Bacteria feed on the sugars and starches that are stuck on your teeth and when this happens, plaque forms.
The plaque that stays on your teeth for a long time hardens above or under your gum line. When they harden, they become tartar. Once they have turned into tartar, it would be more difficult to remove. The tartar then creates a shield for bacteria.
Plaque contains acids that can remove the good minerals in the hard and outer enamel of your teeth. The acids will cause tiny openings or holes in the enamel layer and this is when cavities form.
Once the enamel erodes, the acid and bacteria can reach the layer under the enamel, which is the dentin.
The dentin is a softer layer and more vulnerable. It will become less resistant to acid. The dentin also has tiny tubes that interact with the nerves of the teeth. Once the bacteria and acid reach those tubes, it causes tooth sensitivity.
As tooth decay develops, the acid and bacteria will continue to dig through your teeth and move on to the next layer, which is the pulp. The pulp has blood vessels and nerves. Once it gets attacked by bacteria, it becomes irritated and swollen. And since there is no place to expand the swelling inside the tooth, the nerves are pressed together and this causes pain and discomfort.
How to treat types of cavities
If your cavities are in the early stage, a fluoride treatment may be the only thing you need. Fluoride treatment can help restore your enamel and even reverse the cavity. Fluoride treatments can be liquid, foam, gel, or varnish that will be brushed onto your teeth or placed in a small tray to be fitted over your teeth.
Restorations or fillings are the major treatment option when it comes to cavities that have gone beyond the early stage. The fillings are made of different materials – they can be made out of porcelain, dental amalgam, or tooth-colored composite resins.
Dental crowns are the solution for extensive cavities and weakened teeth. This is a custom-fitted covering that will replace the natural crown of your tooth. The dentist will drill away the decayed part of your tooth and then create a crown to fit over the part that’s left.
When the tooth decay has reached the pulp, you will need a root canal. The treatment will repair and save a badly damaged tooth without having to remove it. When a root canal happens, the affected tooth pulp and root cavities will be removed and replaced with a filling. Your dentist may put some medication into the root canal to clear off any infection.
Some teeth can be badly decayed and there is no hope of restoring or saving them. In this case, it is best to remove the decayed tooth. Dentists will often recommend you to get a dental implant to replace the missing tooth since the gap will allow your other teeth to shift and you might end up with misaligned teeth.
Factors that put you at risk for root cavities
Poor oral health
Of course, the number one reason that puts you at risk for tooth decay is having poor dental hygiene. We all know the rule – brush your teeth three times a day. And do not forget to floss and use mouthwash too! It is best if you can brush your teeth as soon as you finish your meals to prevent bacteria from thriving and plaque from forming.
Frequent snacking and sipping of certain foods and drinks
Some foods and drinks do not get washed away by saliva alone and as a result, they cling to your teeth for a long time. Some examples of such food are milk, soda, cake, hard candy, mints, sugar, chips, cookies, ice cream, honey, dried fruit, and many more.
If you eat these foods and drinks often and you do not clean your teeth right away, your mouth becomes a welcoming environment for bacteria to thrive and create acids that damage your teeth. Eventually, tooth decay will follow.
Feeding your baby during bedtime
Bedtime infant feeding can also be a risk – especially when you are feeding your babies milk formula, juice, or other beverages that have sugar in them. Since it is bedtime, it is unlikely that you would brush your baby’s teeth afterward so these beverages remain on the baby’s teeth overnight.
Not getting enough fluoride
Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps prevent cavities. It can even reverse tooth damage as long as it is at its earliest stages. This is why fluoride is a common ingredient for dental products.
A dry mouth happens when you lack saliva. Saliva is important because it is your mouth’s natural cleanser. It washes away food and plaque from your teeth and as a result, helps prevent tooth decay from forming. The substances in saliva help fight off the acid that bacteria produce. Dry mouth can also happen as a result of certain medications or medical conditions.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or gastric reflux causes stomach acid to flow into your mouth. When this happens, the acid can wear away the tooth enamel and this can cause some damage.
Bulimia and anorexia can also lead to cavities in the long run. Your teeth get exposed to stomach acid from the vomiting. Some eating disorders can also affect the production of saliva in your mouth.
Worn-out fillings or dental devices
Dental fillings and devices can weaken over the years. They break down and may start having rough edges. This is why you have to replace them now and then. When these dental devices or filling get worn out or stop fitting well, plaque can build up and decay can start to grow underneath them.
Older adults are at high risk of cavities. As you age, your gums will recede and your teeth will wear down. When this happens, you will become vulnerable to root decay. Older adults also happen to use a lot of medications and this can reduce their saliva flow and increase their risk for tooth decay.
How to prevent tooth decay
Brush with fluoride toothpaste after eating or drinking
You should brush at least twice a day, preferably after every meal. Use toothpaste that has fluoride in it. Make sure to use dental floss so you can clean in between your teeth. It will also help to use a mouth rinse that has fluoride in it.
Do regular check-ups with your dentist
The best prevention is good dental hygiene and regular check-ups with your dentist. Get professional teeth cleanings – it is the best way to get rid of tartar from our teeth. Plus, if you see your dentist regularly, it will be easy to spot a problem right away and you will get sound advice diagnosis or treatment.
You can also consider using dental sealants. Sealants are like a protective plastic coating that is applied to the molars. It seals off any crannies and grooves and protects the tooth enamel from plaque and acid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends school-aged kids have dental sealants. This prevention tool can last for several years but it needs to be checked regularly by a dental professional.
Eat tooth-healthy foods
It helps to be conscious about the food you eat and the drinks you consume. Foods such as vegetables and fresh fruits help increase saliva flow. Sugar-free gum is also one way to increase your saliva if you feel like your mouth is getting dry. Stay away from food that you know would get stuck in your teeth for a long time. If it can’t be avoided, at least make sure that you clean your teeth right away.
Imagine if you do not have molars and you only rely on your front teeth when you eat. It’s not a pretty picture, isn’t it? This is why you need to take care of your molars! The back teeth are important for your overall health.
Cavities on the side of the molars are hard to notice and difficult to treat but it is not impossible to fix them. Remember, the sooner you seek dental care, the better chances you have to reverse tooth decay. It is best to treat cavities before they start giving you pain so you do not have to go through an extensive and expensive dental treatment.
Once you notice the signs of cavities or you know you are at risk, visit your dentist immediately! If there is a problem, you will be lucky to catch it and fix it right away!