When you were a child, did your parents ever tell you that you should take good care of your teeth because you only have one set, and they have to last? Our teeth are really important to living a healthy life. They help us eat food, communicate with the world around us, and help us express when we are happy. So when you visit your dentist, and they tell you that a cavity has formed on one of your teeth, it’s easy to feel bummed out. However, most of us aren’t really sure what a cavity is, and how it forms. So, here is some helpful information to help you understand what a cavity is and how we get them.
What is a Cavity?
Simply put, a cavity is another term for tooth decay, and is caused by the bacteria that grow in your mouth. There are several factors that determine whether you will develop a cavity including: how well you brush and floss, your diet, and your exposure to fluoride in drinking water or toothpaste. Cavities generally form on your teeth in places where bacteria can easily settle in, such as: in-between teeth, in the grooves of your molars, along the gum line and next to fillings or other dental work. Cavities are tricky because when they are new and just starting to form you probably won’t even notice decay has started. As the cavity forms further and more of the enamel of your teeth is eaten away, your tooth may become sensitive to hot, cold and sweet foods.
How a Cavity Forms
The formation of a cavity is a multi-step process that starts with the bacteria that live naturally in your mouth. These bacteria love to munch on starchy and sugary foods like candy, soda, breads and cake. When these foods are present in your mouth, the bacteria consume them creating an acidic byproduct that can eat away at the enamel of your teeth. This acid attacks the calcium and phosphates in the enamel of your teeth, and over time will completely dissolve the enamel layer on the outside of your tooth. Once this protective layer is gone, the bacteria and acid will eat away at the dentin and eventually the tooth pulp. Once the bacteria and acid have reached the tooth’s dentin, the damage to the tooth is permanent and will require repair by your dentist.
Types of Cavities
There are three types of cavities that are common:
- Coronal Cavities – these are the cavities that most often come to mind when the word “cavity” is mentioned. These form in between teeth or on the tooth’s chewing surface.
- Recurrent Decay or Cavity – These cavities form next to an area that has already had a filling or a crown. These junctions are prone to bacteria and plaque buildup, so they are more prone to cavities.
- Root Cavities – Exposed roots due to gum recession are prone to developing cavities because they do not have a protective layer of enamel.
No one wants to hear that they have a cavity. However, the good news is that in most instances cavities are preventable. If you brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss at least once per day and make sure you visit your dentist for regular check-ups, you can keep your mouth clean, healthy and cavity free.
I Am Looking for the Best Family Dentist in Shelby Township, MI!
HPS Advanced Dental Care is Shelby Township’s best family dentist. With a full range of care options from preventative care to cosmetic dentistry, our services are perfect for your whole family. To schedule a dental appointment or to learn more about our holistic dental services, call us today at (248) 652-0024.