Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How Does a Cavity Happen?

A cavity is a hole in the tooth left behind after the removal of tooth decay. Cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth that will build up over time. Culprits to the development of cavities are the absence or lack of proper daily oral hygiene routines, skipping biyearly dental cleaning visits and poor eating habits. Both children and adults are susceptible to the development of cavities.

How a Cavity Develops

Everyone needs food to survive. Unfortunately, the bacteria contained in your mouth also need food — to produce the harmful acids that erode tooth enamel. You’ve probably heard that sugary foods and sweets are bad for your teeth; however, it’s actually any carbohydrate that’s the culprit. Simple carbs known as fermentable carbohydrates are found in foods like bread, crackers, cereal, chips — even bananas. The sugars react with the bacteria and begin to dissolve the protective layer of the teeth.

In its earliest stages, tooth decay manifests with a white spot. At this stage, further damage can be prevented by professional fluoride treatments. If left unchecked, the acids will continue to eat through the tooth enamel — causing lasting damage to the tooth. The only thing left to do at this point is remove the decay and fill the cavity. The longer the problem goes untreated, the more severe it can become; decay can reach all the way to the nerve of the tooth.

Risk Factors for Cavities 

Some people are more likely to get cavities than others. For example, young children are susceptible because their new teeth don’t have strong enamel. Baby bottle tooth decay, as its known, is very common in youngsters and can cause serious cavities within a short period of time.

For adults, cavities are often caused by periodontal disease. Dry mouth and certain medications can cause this problem. Saliva is important because it washes away harmful bacteria and acids, so anything that causes a decrease in saliva production can contribute to tooth decay.

Sometimes, tooth decay occurs underneath fillings, crowns, or other restorations — especially if the restoration is cracked or placed incorrectly.

Cavity Prevention

Regular dental examinations and cleanings can prevent cavities from forming. For patients of all ages, early detection is key. Although home dental care such as regular brushing and flossing is important, only a professional cleaning can remove harmful tartar buildup. In addition, your dentist can protect your teeth with fluoride treatments and sealants — minimizing your risk of developing cavities.

Schedule Your Appointment 

Don’t take your chances with cavities — schedule your appointment with Dr. Richard Stuart today by calling 317-660-6223. Dr. Stuart and his friendly staff are proud to serve Indianapolis; services offered include preventive dentistry and cosmetic dentistry for patients of all ages.

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