How Do Cavities Form?
By Dr. David Wyse on July 24, 2013
Prevention is key when it comes to dealing with cavities. Understanding how cavities form can help you reduce your risk of developing cavities, and help you to understand the importance of preventative care. Cosmetic dentists Jay W. Chrisman and David D. Wyse explain how cavities develop and what you can do to help protect your teeth.
How Cavities Form
Cavities result when dental decay damages the structure of the tooth and creates a hole, or cavity. Tooth decay is caused by plaque and tartar buildup. Cavities tend to develop when patients do not properly care for the teeth. Proper oral hygiene, including flossing once a day, brushing at least twice a day, and seeing your dentist regularly, is vital to preventing the buildup of plaque and tartar.
Plaque and tartar are largely responsible for cavity formation for a number of reasons. Plaque and tartar are made up of saliva, food particles, bacteria, and acid. Tartar is a hard, mineralized form of plaque, which makes it difficult to remove from the teeth. As plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth, the acid in the plaque and tartar begin to erode the protective layer, or enamel, of the teeth. Once the enamel erodes away, it will not replenish itself. As more and more of the enamel erodes, the tooth is left vulnerable to further decay and a cavity forms.
Sweets and acidic foods and drinks can increase the risk of cavity formation. Bacteria thrive off of sweet foods and drinks. As bacteria eat the sugars left on teeth by sodas and candy, they excrete more acid, which encourages dental decay. Acidic foods and drinks, like citrus fruits, also increase the risk for enamel erosion and cavities.
In summary, cavities form from:
- Plaque buildup
- Tartar buildup
- Over consumption of sugary foods and drinks
- Over consumption of acidic foods and drinks
Tips to Prevent Cavities
You can help prevent cavities by practicing good oral hygiene habits and avoiding certain foods and drinks. Here are a few useful tips to help prevent cavities from forming.
- Thoroughly brush for at least two minutes at a time, twice a day.
- Floss at least once a day.
- See your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks.
The type of treatment you choose is best decided between you and your dentist based on your specific needs. There are many restorative dentistry treatments available to repair teeth damaged by cavities. Metal fillings are no longer the only option. Cavities can be treated with cosmetically pleasing treatments such as tooth-colored fillings, inlays, onlays, and dental crowns. It is important to seek treatment at the earliest signs of decay. Untreated cavities can cause painful and lead to the need for root canals. To discuss your personalized treatment plan, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Chrisman and Wyse at your earliest convenience. Our staff is ready to help you achieve good dental health.
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“I love my "new teeth." I feel so much better about my smile. The staff at Dr. Chrisman's office was very friendly and professional. I would recommend them to anyone looking for excellent dental care.” Jennifer B