Let’s Discuss How a Cavity is Formed
Last updated Wednesday, August 16th, 2023
Most people get scared just hearing about cavities. But it’s better to hear about them rather than looking at the mirror and seeing them sabotage your smile. Cavities and tooth decay are one of the most common health problems faced by people. In fact, 91% of Americans between the age of 20 to 64 have suffered from cavities at some point.
The good news is they’re also one of the most easily avoidable and treatable health problems.
But even if you’ve got one, don’t let your wild imagination stress you out!
You don’t have to worry about scary-looking tools and injections invading your mouth to fix them. Our team here at Smiles by Hanna will quickly make your teeth cavity-free in a pain-free way.
What is a Cavity in a Tooth?
Cavities are permanently damaged areas that look like holes on the surface of your teeth. They vary in size depending on how much damage they’ve done to your teeth.
Symptoms of a Cavity
It’s hard to catch small cavities early on because they hardly cause any symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to schedule regular dental cleaning sessions with a professional to catch them and take action early.
Your cavity symptoms depend on how much damage they’ve caused and where they’ve caused it.
Let’s take a look at some of the most symptoms triggered by cavities:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Experiencing pain while eating sweet, hot, or cold foods
- Experiencing pain when you bite down
- Visible signs like holes or pits in the teeth or brown, black, or white staining on you tooth surface.
The Process of a Healthy Tooth to a Decaying Tooth
Your tooth decay is not an accident. It takes time for the decay to show itself. It starts with a buildup of bacteria that forms as a transparent sticky film on your teeth called plaque. If it goes undetected and you don’t do anything about it, it eventually hardens into a yellowish or brownish substance called tartar. Tartar is a lot stickier and harder to remove than plaque.
The plaque creates an acidic environment around your teeth, which starts eating away your tooth enamel. It causes tiny openings or holes in your teeth. If it can eat through the hardest substance in your body (enamel), the acids and bacteria are not going to stop there. It starts eating away the next layer in your teeth that’s much more sensitive called dentin.
Dentin is softer than enamel and easier for acid to wear through. It is directly to the root of the tooth, which can easily trigger tooth sensitivity.
Ultimately, the bacteria will reach your inner tooth material, or pulp after it damages everything else. This is where the most sensitive part of your teeth are found – nerves and blood vessels. The pulp will become swollen and irritated.
The swelling will continue to expand, which will lead to the nerve in your tooth getting compressed. This can trigger intense pain that can extend all the way to the bone.
What Causes a Cavity?
How does plaque invade your teeth? Because your food and hygiene choices invite it into your mouth.
Bacteria feeds on sugars and starches. So if you’re consuming foods and drinks loaded with them without cleaning your teeth properly, you’re allowing bacteria to make its home in your teeth.
The teeth that are harder to reach like your molars are more difficult to clean. Naturally, it makes them more vulnerable to cavities. Similarly, teeth with grooves are quite vulnerable too. You should stick to foods that can easily be washed away by saliva or drinking water. If you consume sticky, acidic, and high-sugar foods frequently throughout the day, the bacteria gets more time to multiply.
How to Treat a Tooth Cavity?
A number of different options are available for treatment of tooth decay. A few common ones are listed below, but your dentist will be able to recommend the best fit for you and explain in more detail.
Fist, your dentist must safely remove the decayed material from your tooth. Next, they will use materials like composite resin or dental amalgam to safely fill your cavities.
Dental crowns or tooth caps can easily restore the surface of your damaged tooth. Your dentist will file down your affected tooth to remove the decay, and use a new material to restore the shape of your tooth. This material can be made out of metal or gold, porcelain, ceramic, or resin.
Root canals may be the only resort left if the decay has reached the pulp or roots of your tooth. Leaving it untreated, it can cause many more severe health problems. So your dentist must remove the diseased tooth pulp and replace it with a filling. They may even need to apply some medication at the treatment site.
Dental extraction is the last resort if your tooth has suffered far too much damage. It needs to be safely extracted and cleaned by a dentist or oral surgeon.
How to Avoid Cavities?
The best precaution you can take is to properly brush your teeth. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush your teeth. Ensure you thoroughly clean every surface of each tooth. Do it for at least two minutes. This will eliminate the sugars that bacteria feed on and get rid of plaque.
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day. Use fluoride-containing toothpastes and mouthwashes as they help prevent tooth decay.
Avoid frequent snacking. Otherwise. your teeth will be bombarded with an overload of bacteria that accelerates tooth decay.
Most importantly, visit your dentist at least once every six months. Your dentist will examine your teeth and spot any problems early, meaning decay won’t have a chance to get bad enough to require a crown, root canal, or extraction. Regular oral exams and cleaning will also help prevent decay from forming.