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How Do Cavities Form: Answering Dental Care Questions

By Eugene D. Stanislaus on December 05, 2014


A woman holding a toothbrushAt Brooklyn Heights Dental®, we always strive to offer the best care possible. This means using advanced general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry to improve the beauty of the smile and enhance overall dental health in the process. Treating the basics helps ensure lasting dental wellness, which is why we want to take this opportunity to focus on the causes of cavities and what can be done to treat them and prevent them.

About Cavities

Also known as tooth decay or dental caries, cavities are infections of tooth structure that lead to the weakening and destruction of enamel and dentin. The cavities originate on the surface of the teeth and work their way in, becoming more serious as they grow and continue to go untreated.

The Issue of Oral Bacteria

The most common cause of cavities is oral bacteria. This bacteria naturally occurs in the mouth and is also the cause of bad breath (halitosis) and gum disease. This oral bacteria feeds on food particles left behind when you eat, and in the process creates a harmful substance known as plaque.

What is dental plaque?

Dental plaque is a biofilm created by oral bacteria that allows the bacteria to remain stuck to the smooth surface of a tooth. This plaque is acidic in nature and leads to the breakdown of tooth structure as noted above.

Plaque can harden and turn into a substance called tartar. The tartar is rough, which means that bacteria has an easier time sticking around your teeth and doing more damage to your dental health.

Conditions and Substances That Make Tooth Decay Worse

One major contributor to the severity of tooth decay is snacking on sticky/sugary foods and sugary beverages, such as hard candies, soft drinks, pastries, and ice cream. Bacteria feeds on these substances, and frequent snacking can lead to faster or more severe cavity formation.

Dry mouth can cause tooth decay and gum disease to progress faster since it makes the mouth more ideal for bacteria to feast on food particles and do damage to the teeth, which is why proper hydration is key to good dental health.

If you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly, this inattentive care also leads to existing tooth decay progressing at a more rapid rate. That's why regular oral hygiene is so crucial.

What treatments are available for cavities?

Treating cavities generally means the use of dental restorations to rebuild tooth structure that has been compromised. Common dental restorations include fillings, inlays, onlays, and crowns. The most ideal restoration for you will depending on the extent and nature of the tooth decay you've suffered.

Tips for Preventing Tooth Decay

Prevention is always best, and the following tips will help you have a healthy smile that's less likely to be affected by cavities:

  • Avoid snacking on sugary foods
  • Avoid or dramatically reduce consumption of soda
  • Stay hydrated with water throughout the day
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Floss your teeth at least once a night
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups

Schedule a Consultation at Brooklyn Heights Dental®

If you would like more information about tooth decay and how these kinds of dental problems can be treated, we encourage you to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today. The team at Brooklyn Heights Dental® looks forward to your visit and helping you have a healthy and beautiful smile.

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