Cavities are one of the most common dental health issues, but what causes cavities and how do we prevent them?
What Is a Cavity?
A cavity is another word for tooth decay, which is the destruction of the hard outermost layer of your teeth known as enamel. There are two types of cavities: pit and fissure cavities and smooth surface cavities. Pit and fissure cavities are ones that occur on the chewing surfaces of our front and back teeth. Smooth surface cavities are found along the gumline and in the space between teeth. While we often think of candy-eating children as those who get cavities, tooth decay can happen to anyone.
How Do Cavities Form?
Tooth decay happens when bacteria in your mouth produce acids that wear away at your enamel. Though there is always bacteria in your mouth, when that bacteria feed off of the sugary and starchy foods that are left behind in your mouth, they turn this food into acid. This acid creates plaque, which is a clear sticky film that covers your teeth and is the result of eating sugars and starches and not brushing your teeth and flossing well. This plaque can then further harden to create tartar, which is even more difficult to remove and acts as a shield for bacteria. When the acids have an environment that breeds tooth decay, it erodes tiny holes in the enamel until it reaches the next layer of teeth called dentin.
If left untreated, the decay could reach the inner pulp of the tooth which is where the nerves and blood vessels are. If the decay reaches this part of your tooth, you are in serious risk of losing the tooth unless you get treatment. Sometimes people are more susceptible to cavities based on their genetics, but bad dental hygiene and diet are the main causes of cavities.
How Can You Prevent Cavities?
To keep cavities at bay, brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, floss at least once a day, and use fluoride toothpaste. Performing good oral health practices, along with eating a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in starches and sugars, is the best way to stop tooth decay in its tracks.
Another important part of preventing cavities is coming in for regular cleanings and checkups. Call us today to schedule an appointment!