The bacteria that live in the plaque on the teeth is responsible for the formation of cavities. This is why, if proper dental care is neglected, cavities may result.
What Causes Cavities to Form?
Poor dental hygiene leads to a buildup of plaque, which is a sticky film that adheres to the teeth. This accumulation of plaque often results in tooth decay (aka cavities). The bacteria in the mouth stick to the plaque and begin breaking down the food particles and the sugar left behind. The bacteria release acid, which attacks the enamel, slowly destroying the teeth.
Who Is At Greatest Risk for Developing Cavities?
Cavities are predominant in young children because the enamel on primary teeth is more sensitive than that on the permanent teeth. Sweet foods and sugary drinks can easily damage primary teeth. Furthermore, children, especially those who are younger, are more likely to be challenged with performing proper dental hygiene.
Although permanent teeth are stronger than baby teeth, they are rather sensitive when they first grow in. Enamel that has just broken through the gums has not fully hardened, making it more prone to decay.
How Can I Find Out If I Have a Cavity?
Even if there are no visible signs of a cavity or pain being experienced, dentists train for years to learn how to find tooth decay. The dentist visually examines the teeth. In addition, X-rays can be taken to determine how deep a cavity is.
What Does a Cavity Look like?
The first visible sign of decay is a white or brown spot on the surface of the affected tooth. If this decay is left untreated, small holes will develop in the tooth.
What Are the Symptoms of a Cavity?
Once the nerve root of the decaying tooth is exposed, the pain begins. At this point, the consumption of hot, cold, sweet and/or acidic food, and drink can lead to tooth pain.
How Are Cavities Treated?
To fix a cavity, the dentist removes the decayed tooth matter and then fills the empty space with a synthetic material or precious metal.
If the nerve root is damaged, a root canal with a crown may be suggested, however, there are times when the tooth needs to be pulled. The missing tooth can be replaced with a flipper, a bridge or a dental implant.
How Can I Prevent Cavity Formation?
Implementing a daily routine of brushing, flossing and using an antiseptic mouthwash will reduce the number of acid-creating bacteria. In addition, dental hygiene experts recommend visiting a dentist at least twice a year for a dental exam and professional cleaning.
Dr. Nicholas Polito offers cosmetic and general dentistry services. He is also certified in Invisalign treatment. Dr. Polito’s caring demeanor and love of dentistry make him one of the top dental providers in and around Libertyville, Illinois. His office address is 1109 West Park Avenue, Libertyville, Illinois. To schedule an appointment, call (847) 367-1133.