Cavities 101

 Cavities. A word that’s known pretty universally. However, many people only know the shallow definition of what a cavity is, how it’s formed and how to prevent it. A cavity is basically the decaying of a tooth. A cavity doesn’t just appear in one day either, it takes time for them to even become visible to the naked eye. So, how does a cavity begin?  

 Our mouths are full of bacteria. Yes, even yours. There is a lot of bacteria in the mouth that is beneficial for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. On the flipside of the coin, there is also harmful bacteria that is responsible for things such as bad breath and cavities. Cavities result when an infection occurs with the type of bacteria that uses sugars in foods to make acids Whenever we eat or drink something that contains sugar or starch, the bacteria uses them to produce acids. These acids begin to eat away at the tooth’s enamel. If that was the only thing that happened, we’d all be walking around without teeth.

 Luckily, minerals from our saliva and fluoride from water and toothpaste come to the rescue by replenishing the minerals the teeth were stripped of by the acid. However, things can go south pretty quick if you either eat or drink a lot of sugary things or you irregularly brush your teeth. Both of these will cause the buildup of acid on the teeth which will slowly eat away at the enamel. 

 If you or someone you know ever had braces, you may have noticed some white spots after the braces came off. You may have thought that was a good thing and meant you got your teeth even cleaner than before. When in fact, it means the complete opposite. Those little white spots are actually the first sign of a cavity forming.  If you stick with the same diet or hygiene regiment that caused the white spots, they will continue to get worse until you end up with a full-blown cavity. The main reason to avoid cavities is because they are irreversible. With a cavity that hasn’t gone untreated too long, the only real treatment plan is to remove the parts of the tooth that are deteriorated and then fill the gap with typically a silver or composite resin filling. 

 If a cavity is left untreated, the infection can spread deep inside the tooth, affecting the nerve and blood vessel. You’ll know if this is the case with you because the pain won’t go unnoticed. One of the solutions is to try to save your tooth through a root canal. This is a procedure where the affected nerve is removed to stop the pain. In the worst-case scenario, the entire tooth may need to be removed if the cavity has spread that much. This should almost never happen if a person has proper hygiene, diet and regular dentist checkups.  

 Cavities are something that can and should be avoided. With a proper brushing and flossing regiment as well as a diet with minimum sugars and starches you can easily avoid cavities. Add to that dentist check-ups and cleanings every 6 months and you have nothing to worry about! The worst part about cavities is if you would like to correct your smile with braces or Invisalign, you won’t be able to until you get the cavities fixed – straightening your teeth when they are deteriorating with cavities is opposite of what you want. If you feel ready to transform your smile (and your cavity free) click here to schedule your free consultation today!