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What Causes Cavities?

If you have any experience going to the dentist, then you are aware that cavities are something you should avoid at all costs. Despite that common knowledge, many dental patients remain unaware of what cavities are, what causes them to form in their mouths and how to prevent cavities.

Reading this article will help you gain a clear understanding of how a cavity comes to be. We’ll begin with the basics of what a cavity is before discussing the details of how it forms and a few preventative measures.

What is a Dental Cavity?

Before progressing any further on the topic of what causes cavities, let’s ensure you have a firm grasp of what a cavity is. A cavity is a type of tooth decay that involves a small hole forming on the outer surface of your teeth. Typically, cavities arise as a result of poor dental health practices, and they tend to get significantly worse if you don’t seek the proper treatment.

How Do Cavities Form?

Now that we have covered the basics of what a cavity is, let’s consider what causes them to form. In most cases, cavities result from a lack of dental hygiene combined with the consumption of sugary foods.

Almost all of us have a daily routine that involves some form of teeth cleaning, whether that’s brushing, flossing, or rinsing. However, if you fail to keep up with the beneficial dental habits, a substance known as plaque will begin to form on the outer surfaces of your teeth.

The presence of plaque does not immediately cause a cavity to form. However, plaque contains bacteria, which react with the sugars in your food to create a form of acid. This acid is capable of causing tooth decay, often in the form of cavities.

If you allow plaque to proliferate throughout your mouth, you can expect your tooth decay and cavities to increase in both size and number. As this situation worsens, you can experience several dental complications, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Negative Effects of Dental Cavities

If you fail to treat your dental cavities, you can expect a wide range of negative outcomes to occur in your mouth. Below is a brief list of some of the most common downsides to untreated cavities:

Mouth pain: Cavities can cause pain and sensitivity in and around the areas where they form.

Difficulty eating normally: The pain a cavity causes can make it difficult to use all parts of your mouth normally while you eat.

Rotted or cracked teeth: As cavities progress, they can cause your entire tooth to rot. At times, the way the hole forms can also cause your tooth to crack.

Bad breath: The presence of cavities and tooth decay can cause you to have bad breath, even after you have brushed your teeth thoroughly.

Dental abscess: Untreated cavities can develop into dental abscesses, which are collections of pus that form inside your teeth. A dental abscess can become infected, which may result in several severe complications, including death in rare cases.

Clearly, a cavity is not something that you should allow to go unaddressed. While some of the negative outcomes of this form of tooth decay are nothing more than a nuisance, others pose a serious threat to your overall health and longevity. As such, it is important to seek professional treatment for your cavities as soon as possible.

Treating Cavities

After learning about the negative outcomes a cavity can cause, you are likely interested in learning some of the treatment options a dentist might provide you to resolve this type of tooth decay. Fortunately, there are many interventions a dentist can take to resolve cavities.

The proper solution for a cavity depends on the cavity’s severity. For example, dentists can treat newly formed cavities with fluoride, which helps small cavities go away while also strengthening the outer surfaces of your teeth.

One of the most common treatments for cavities is known as a filling. Fillings come in many forms, all of which serve the same purpose of filling in the small holes that have formed in your teeth. Some fillings match the natural color of your teeth, while other, more affordable options consist of gold or silver-colored materials.

In extreme cases, parts or all of your tooth may not be salvageable. In such instances, your dentist will likely perform a root canal or an entire tooth extraction, which involves removing the affected tooth from your mouth. Dentists will often complete this procedure by installing a crown to take the place of your former tooth.

We’re here to help your teeth remain cavity free

It is relieving to learn that cavities are treatable, even after progressing to a serious stage. However, a better approach is to prevent cavities from forming in the first place. The best way to do that is to adopt a comprehensive dental routine.

A complete tooth care routine starts with at-home cleanings. Each day, you should brush your teeth for about two minutes at least twice a day. Pairing your brushing with flossing and rinsing makes your cleanings even more effective.

However, even if you are diligent in cleaning your teeth at home, it remains vital to visit a dentist for regular professional cleanings. Even if you are thorough, you cannot fully clean all areas of your mouth as effectively as a dentist can.

Visiting a dentist for regular cleaning helps ensure that your mouth remains clean and cavity-free. Dental cleanings also give your dentist a chance to notice any cavities or tooth decay in your mouth before they become a severe concern.

Finding a Dentist Near You

Taking time to see a dentist you trust is one of the most important preventative measures against cavities and tooth decay. At White Pine Family Dentistry, we prioritize building a relationship with all of our patients to best understand their unique dental needs.

If you live in or around Hamilton, Ontario, and you are concerned about potential cavities in your mouth, reach out to us today to learn how we can help keep your smile healthy and looking better than ever before.

White Pine Family Dentistry