Tooth Decay 101: How Do Cavities Form?
Ridgewood Dental Associates offers patients some of the most advanced cosmetic and restorative dentistry procedures focused on enhancing dental health and wellness. Often times, though, the basics are what's needed, such as filling cavities and fighting tooth decay.
Many patients know what a cavity is in a broad sense, but they don't understand what they really are or how they form. To clear up confusion, let's take a look into this matter right now.
The Primary Cause is Oral Bacteria
We should first single out the primary culprit for tooth decay: oral bacteria.
Bacteria is common in everyone's mouth. In fact, the bacteria that causes tooth decay is the same sort of bacteria that causes gum disease and bad breath as well. This bacteria loves to feed on food particles in the mouth. When they do this, the bacteria produces a harmful acidic substance that eats into the tooth structure, causing the enamel to be destroyed. This is a cavity.
Cavities can start small, but as more food particles get lodged in the cavity and/or as more bacteria feeds on the food, the cavity and the tooth damage can grow in size.
The Role of Plaque and Tartar
In order to remain in place on the teeth, the oral bacteria creates this sticky biofilm known as plaque. The plaque stays on and around the teeth, giving bacteria a perfect place to on which to cling. If the plaque is not cleaned off, it hardens into this rough substance known as tartar (dental calculus), which is an ideal place for oral bacteria to reside.
Sugary Foods Are an Ideal Food for Oral Bacteria
The most ideal food for oral bacteria is sugary food. This means candies, junk food, soda, and fruit juices.
You know how your parents used to scold you and say that all that sugary food would give you cavities? They were right in a lot of ways.
The X-Factor: Oral Hygiene
You can prevent cavities from forming if you brush and floss regularly. This helps remove food particles from the mouth and it helps remove plaque before it hardens into tartar. Of course, there are times when people neglect to brush their teeth and floss, which makes cavities more likely and also increases the chances of cavities becoming much worse.
The Danger of Cavities
Major cavities can lead to structural problems with the teeth, making them more prone to breaking from regular biting and chewing. In addition, the cavity may stretch past the enamel of the tooth, down through the dentin layer, and wind up accessing the dental pulp located inside of the tooth. This can lead to infection, and abscess, and far more serious general health problems.
Treatment and Prevention Options for Cavities
Prevention is always best for dealing with cavities. Be sure to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a night. Ideally, try to brush and floss after every meal.
Instead of snacking on sugary foods and drinking sweetened beverages, try to stick with healthy snack alternatives and to stay hydrated by drinking water.
Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. If your dentist spots a cavity, it can be treated by using a dental restoration. Usually a simple filling will do the trick, though for more serious tooth decay, inlays, onlays, or crowns will be more ideal.
Schedule an Appointment at Ridgewood Dental Associates
For more information about treating cavities and preventing tooth decay, we encourage you to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team here at Ridgewood Dental Associates will work closely with you to ensure you receive the best possible dental care.