Cleaned dental cavityThere is no better feeling than coming home from a dentist appointment cavity free. However, people often avoid dental visits because they feel that brushing and flossing regularly should keep them out of the dentist chair, especially if they never experience a toothache. Just because there is no pain, doesn’t mean there is no problem. Cavities are sneaky and waiting to see a dentist until the last minute, when you are in pain, is when a simple filling becomes a root canal. Interproximal cavities (cavities between the teeth) are the sneakiest of all.

Cavities equal decay, and decay is the breakdown of the outer-calcified enamel of the tooth by bacteria frequently found in the human mouth. Plaque or calculus (deposit on the tooth) allow the bacteria to set up shop on and between your teeth. Bacteria breaks down sugars (carbohydrates), which causes acid to break down the enamel of the tooth resulting in cavities.

Interproximal Cavities Diagnosis

Using an X-ray called a bite wing, interproximal cavities are diagnosed. This is a crucial part of early detection and allows for accurate assessment of the extent of the cavity. Although visual inspection may allow detection of a cavity, without an X-ray the depth of the cavity remains unknown.

If the cavity is detected early enough, when the cavity has only extended half way into the enamel of the tooth, it can be recalcified with a fluoride gel. Once the cavity has penetrated deeper into the enamel, the cavity will need to be filled. If left untreated for too long, more extensive treatment will be required, such as a root canal or crown. If left without treatment at all, the decay can become major enough that it may result in tooth loss.

Symptoms of Interproximal Cavities

Once a cavity has penetrated the dentin, the second layer of tissue beneath the enamel, symptoms will start to show, such as:

  • Temperature sensitivity both hot and cold
  • Sensitivity to certain foods, such as sweets
  • Trouble chewing or biting

Prevention of Interproximal Cavities

Many people focus on the brushing action on the surface of the anterior teeth (front teeth) or the surface of the posterior teeth (molars). It is common for an individual to neglect the regions which are present between the teeth. This can be due to the fact that it is easier to focus on the areas that are directly in our field of vision, but it can also be due to the fact that it is difficult to get the bristle of the toothbrush into the region between the teeth. This is why it is extremely important floss at least once a day. Making sure you keep food from becoming stuck between the teeth is the best way to prevent interproximal cavities. If you think you may have a cavity or have any questions, contact our office and our friendly and highly trained staff can help.