Being diagnosed with a cavity can be stressful, but you’re not alone. Cavities are extremely common. The National Institutes of Health reports that 92 percent of adults (ages 20 to 65) have had cavities in their permanent teeth. Cavities may form in the pits and grooves of the molars, the spaces between teeth, or even along the gumline. If you were diagnosed with the latter type, known as a gumline cavity, you maybe curious to learn more.
Dental cavities form when plaque, a sticky bacterial film, builds up inside the mouth. The bacteria produce acids, and these acids dissolve the tooth enamel. Over time, a pit develops in the tooth, and a cavity is formed.
Plaque tends to accumulate more easily in certain areas. The pits and fissures of the back teeth are a hot spot for plaque, and so are the spaces between the teeth. Plaque also builds up easily along the gumline, and if it’s not removed, you could end up with a gumline cavity.
Gumline cavities can also be associated with exposed tooth roots. Roots are usually protected by gum tissue, but if the gum tissue recedes, the roots will be vulnerable. That’s because roots are covered in a material called cementum, which is much weaker than tooth enamel. Cavities that form in the roots can get worse quickly, as Dear Doctor explains.
Filling the tooth is the standard treatment for cavities. After numbing the area, the dentist uses a drill or laser to remove the decayed material. Then, the cavity is filled with a material like dental amalgam or composite resin.
Cavities along the gumline are treated in the same way, but with some small differences. If the cavity extends beneath the gumline, it can be hard for the dentist to access it with their drill or laser. In these situations, Dear Doctor explains that minor gum surgery may be required to access the cavity.
The best way to prevent cavities is to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Remember to brush along your gumline with proper brushing technique. To do this, simply place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gumline and use a back-and-forth motion to brush the gumline along each tooth. Once your gumline is clean, move on to your other tooth surfaces.
Flossing once a day is also important for cavity prevention. Flossing with proper technique helps you remove plaque from areas that are hard to reach with your toothbrush, including beneath your gumline. To floss beneath your gumline, curve the floss around the base of each of your teeth. Be gentle to avoid cutting or bruising your gum tissue.
Regular dental checkups are another key cavity prevention step. At checkups, your dentist or dental hygienist can thoroughly clean your teeth and remove plaque and tartar from along the gumline. The dentist can then thoroughly examine your mouth and look for conditions, like gum recession, that could put you at risk of gumline cavities.
With a very good oral hygiene routine and help from your dentist and dental hygienist, you can reduce your chances of getting a gumline cavity