Cavity between teeth is one of the major dental problems faced by people of all ages, gender, and works of life. About 97% of Americans have had a cavity at least once in their life, and if you’ve had a cavity, there is a great chance it was a cavity between teeth.
Cavity between teeth, also known as interproximal cavity, like all types of cavity, is formed when your teeth’ enamel begins to wear off due to the build-up of bacteria in your mouth. So what makes it different from other types of cavities, what are the signs, how can it be treated, and most importantly, how can it be prevented?
WHAT IS A CAVITY
Cavities, also known as dental caries, are a type of tooth decay that causes permanent damage to the enamel of your teeth, and over time develops into tiny holes or openings in your teeth. Several factors combine, are responsible for the development of cavities; lack of proper dental hygiene, frequent snacking and drinking of sugary drinks, and bacteria buildup.
When you continue snacking on sugary foods, without proper dental hygiene, these foods get stuck in your tooth. Bacteria feed off of these surgery foods and convert them to acid. These acid attacks your teeth’s enamel, forming a cavity. Then you begin to notice a black teeth, brown teeth, or white discoloration on the affected tooth, and if not treated immediately, a tiny hole is formed which eventually gets larger as it affects the deeper layers of your tooth.
CAVITY BETWEEN TEETH
Cavity can form on any surface of the teeth, but most commonly it forms between teeth, because while you may be diligent about brushing your teeth, you may forget to floss.
Tiny food particles that cannot be picked up by your toothbrush can accumulate in between the tiny spaces of your teeth, and just as the same way cavities form on the surface of your teeth, cavities form in between your teeth also. About 35% of the teeth surface lies between your teeth, so when you brush without flossing, only about ⅔ of your teeth are cleaned, and ⅓ of it is accumulated by food particles and bacteria buildup.
SIGNS OF CAVITY BETWEEN TEETH
Although cavity between teeth is like the cavity formed on the surface of your teeth, it is always difficult to spot it until it has penetrated deep into the dentin layer of your teeth. Dentin is the second layer of the teeth and they are connected to the nerves of your teeth, so when the cavity penetrates the dentin layer, you become sensitive to pain and other symptoms such as:
- Sensitivity to cold, hot, or sweet foods
- Pain when you bite, eat or chew
- Black, brown, or white discoloration on affected tooth
- Hole or pit in between affected tooth
Cavity between teeth is often spotted during a dental checkup. A regular visit to the dentist will help discover the cavity on time before it penetrates the dentin layer.
DIAGNOSING CAVITY BETWEEN TEETH
To accurately determine the extent of a cavity between teeth, your dentist may do a visual inspection of the affected teeth and later use an X-ray called a bite wing. This type of X-ray is essential for the early detection of cavities. When your dentist reviews your X-ray result, they may notice that some areas of the enamel and dentin look darker than the rest of your teeth. If the cavity is detected early, your dentist may suggest getting a filling.
TREATMENT OF CAVITY BETWEEN TEETH
Depending on the depth of your cavity, your dentist may suggest any of the following treatment options:
To treat your cavity using this option, your debris first ensures to completely remove the decay, then a tooth filling material is used to fill in the hole or pit that was formed as a result of the cavity, to prevent recurrence or any further tooth decay.
Different filling materials can be used for this procedure:
- Composite Fillings: These are made out of resins and plastic material. They are filled into the cavity while they are still soft and hardened with a bright blue curing light.
- Amalgam Fillings: They are more long-lasting and less expensive than other filling materials. They are made of silver, tin, mercury, and copper.
- Glass Fillers: These types of filling materials are preferable for children as they are weaker than other following materials. They are made of glass and acrylic.
- Gold Fillings: As the name implies, they are made of gold, hence more expensive and uncommon. However, they are more durable.
Naturally, your teeth lose their mineral due to continuous waiting and drinking, and this is known as demineralization. Although tooth mineralization is a natural process, it becomes a problem, however, when your teeth can not replace the lost minerals and several factors contribute to this, including mouth acid, mouth bacteria, and saliva.
Remineralization is a natural tooth repair process that uses remineralization agents to keep the teeth strong and strengthen the enamel by helping them absorb minerals such as calcium, phosphate, and fluoride which are added to drinking water to prevent tooth decay.
3. DENTAL CROWNS
If your cavity extends so deep that you will need a large filling or a root canal, your dentist may decide to place a dental crown over them to prevent further damage. Dental crowns will give you a natural appearance, like they were your real teeth, while protecting your real ones.
4. ROOT CANAL
When you experience severe pain from biting down on your food, it could be an indication that the cavity has progressed down to your pulp, the third layer of the teeth that contains the nerves and blood vessels. When that happens, you are likely to have a root canal. A root canal would require the removal of the damaged pulp, sometimes medication is put into the root canal to treat any infections, then the pulp is replaced with a filling.
If your cavity is caught on time, when it is only halfway or less extended into your enamel, your dentist may suggest reclarifying the affected with fluoride gel.
This is the final resort, when the cavity has gone deeper into your jaw bone your dentist might opt to extract the affected teeth and the gap made from the extraction process can be filled with a bridge, a partial denture, or a dental implant.
HOW CAN CAVITY BETWEEN TEETH BE PREVENTED
Since cavity between teeth is caused mainly by tiny food particles that cannot be picked up by your toothbrush, brushing alone then cannot prevent you from having a cavity between teeth. In that case, you should use dental floss just as much as you use your toothbrush. This allows you to penetrate through the crevices and cracks between your teeth and pick out any food particles that may be there.
Your dentist may also suggest that you reduce your intake of sugary foods or drinks, as this can reduce your chances of having a cavity. Avoiding acidic drinks, alcohol, and narcotics is also a way of preventing a cavity from forming between your teeth.
Your dentist may also suggest getting a dental sealant. Sealants are plastic coatings that create a smoother surface, blocking out bacteria and making it easier to thoroughly brush your teeth. This reduces your risk of developing a cavity.
CAVITY BETWEEN TEETH GUMLINE
You are more likely to have a gum line cavity as you age and your gums begin to recede. As you age and your gum recedes, it leaves your root exposed as the bacteria in your mouth feasts on the sugary foods and drinks you take in. The roots are covered with cementum, and since these are softer than the hard enamel covering the rest of your teeth, they are more vulnerable to cavity formation.
There are 3 types of gum line cavities: Smooth surface cavities, hitting surface cavities, and root cavities. However, gum line cavities occur like every other type of cavities bacteria buildup. Cavities most experienced on the gum line, especially in older adults, are usually smooth surface cavities as they do not extend down below the gum line.
Cavity between teeth is a type of tooth decay that is often caused due to the accumulation of tiny food particles in between the crevices of two teeth. This is the most common type of cavity because although a lot of people brush their teeth, most people neglect to floss. Flossing allows you to penetrate between the crevices of your teeth to pick out all the tiny particles your toothbrush could not.
Cavities are not a fun thing to deal with, but they can be easily prevented. By keeping up good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings, you can maintain healthy teeth for years, and even spot a cavity on time before it extends down to your dentin layer.