How Do Cavities Form?

How Do Cavities Form?

Restorative Dentistry, General Dentistry
PGA Dentistry
July 01, 2015
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Here at PGA Center for Advanced Dentistry, we help all patients in and around the Palm Beach Gardens area achieve healthy and beautiful smiles. This is thanks to our commitment to advanced restorative dentistry that enhances dental wellness and general dental care focused on prevention.

Cavities are one of the most common dental problems we address, though many patients have a poor understanding of what cavities are and what causes them. Let's go over this matter right now.

What Are Cavities: The Basics

Before looking at the issue in more detail, let's do an overview.

Cavities refer to damage done to the enamel layer of the tooth structure, which is the topmost part of the tooth. This is caused by oral bacteria feeding on food particles and producing a harmful acid in the process that eats into the teeth.

Oral Bacteria Is Natural But Also a Problem

Oral bacteria naturally occurs in everyone's mouth. This is the same bacteria that causes bad breath and gum disease as well. The oral bacteria feed on the food particles that are caught between the teeth or on the cusps of the teeth, though the most harmful food particles are carbs. This means that sweets and sodas really can cause your teeth to rot if you aren't careful about oral hygiene.

The Formation of Plaque and Tartar

In order for the oral bacteria to remain in place on the smooth surface of a tooth, it produces a sticky biofilm on the surface of the teeth called plaque. If plaque is uncleaned and remains on teeth, it can harden into tartar (aka dental calculus), which provides a rough surface on which bacteria can thrive.

Damage to the Enamel and Tooth Structure

As the tooth becomes damaged, food particles can get trapped in the damaged portions of tooth structure, and bacteria will feed on the food particles, resulting in cavities that go deeper into the tooth structure. This is what causes small cavities to turn into major tooth decay, potentially affecting the underlying dentin layer of the tooth and the pulp chamber within the tooth's core.

What happens when a cavity goes untreated?

If a cavity goes untreated, a tooth can become weakened and discolored. Major tooth decay can make teeth more likely to chip, crack, or break from regular biting and chewing. In addition, the bacteria can potentially infect the dental pulp within a tooth, leading to an abscess and the spread of infection to other parts of the mouth.

Treatment Options for Tooth Decay

To treat tooth decay, the best option is to use a dental restoration, such as a filling, an inlay, an only, or a crown. These will rebuild the damaged tooth structure and prevent further damage to the tooth.

If a tooth is infected, a root canal can be performed in order to remove the infected pulp and restore overall dental health. In extreme cases, the tooth may not be able to be saved and will require extraction.

Tips for Preventing Cavities

In order to prevent cavities, consider the following dental care tips:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day

  • Floss your teeth at least once a night

  • Avoid snacking on sugary foods and sodas

  • Drink water to stay hydrated and remove food particles on the teeth

  • Visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups

Learn More About Treating and Preventing Cavities

For more information about improving the health and beauty of your smile, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The entire team here at PGACenter for Advanced Dentistry looks forward to your visit and helping you have the best smile possible.

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