Growing up, you may remember being constantly reminded to consume sugar in moderation or to brush your teeth in order to avoid cavities. You may remember being rewarded after an annual dentist visit for another year of being cavity-free. Conversely, you may not have been quite so fortunate, and remember undergoing several painful cavities and tooth fillings.
However, have you ever given any thought to what exactly causes cavities to form? Also, did you know that cavities can affect adults just as easily as children? Tooth decay, gum recession, and poor oral hygiene all contribute to cavity growth in adults. The first step in preventing cavities in Kansas City patients is to understand how they happen in the first place.
What Causes Cavities?
In order to fully understand how cavities form, it is first important to understand the structure of the teeth.
A hard, protective layer known as enamel covers each one of our teeth. However, enamel is mineral substance, meaning that it can still breakdown when it comes into contact with the corrosive acids that reside inside our mouths.
Our mouths are filled with bacteria. Believe it or not, not all bacteria is bad, and some types of bacteria are even good for our oral care. However, too many bad bacteria in our mouths will attach themselves to hard surfaces such as tooth enamel and will multiply if they are not removed.
This growth of bacteria leads to plaque, which, if left untreated, can turn into a substance known as tartar. The only way to remove tartar from the teeth is with a professional teeth cleaning. However, if tartar is left untreated, it eats away at tooth enamel and can eventually lead to a mild form of tooth decay and gum disease.
Once tooth decay begins to take place, the tooth’s structure will become compromised by tiny holes that begin to form in its surface. If the holes become larger, they then become classified as cavities.
As you can see, it takes quite a bit of oral neglect for cavities to form. Fortunately, measures can be taken to help prevent cavities.
Cavity Treatment and Prevention
Fortunately, cavities are easily treated and even preventable. If you do experience the misfortune of getting a cavity, you will need to undergo a dental filling, a form of restorative dentistry that replaces and restores the lost tooth structure resulting from the cavity.
If you are concerned about the tell tale metallic-colored filling, thanks to advances in cosmetic dentistry, you can now opt for a natural, tooth-colored filling that is made of composite resin or ceramic that blends perfectly with the rest of the tooth.
To prevent cavities all together, brush teeth twice daily, floss once daily, rinse with mouthwash, and visit your dentist yearly. Brush more often if you consume large amounts of sugar or starch, and be sure to drink plenty of water to help rinse your teeth and gums as well as combat acid and bacteria buildup.
Learn More about How Cavities Form
To find out more about how cavities form, how to treat them, and how to prevent them all together, schedule a consultation with Dr. John Goodman today.