What is a Cavity?
Tooth decay is the softening of the tooth enamel due to acids created by bacterial plaque when they break down sugar in the mouth.
It’s not very hard to understand cavities. Decay occurs over time and it results in cavities – a defect in the tooth. Enamel is the hard, protective top layer that covers the teeth. Once the enamel is weakened by the acids produced by the bacteria, a cavity or pit is formed on the surface of the tooth.
Causes of Cavities and Tooth Decay
When carbohydrates from your food get trapped between teeth, tooth decay can occur. The bacteria begin to generate acids that eat the tooth enamel. These acids then begin to create holes in the teeth, which we call cavities. Without proper treatment, these holes grow larger over time and eventually destroy the whole tooth.
The major causes of cavities are the foods that you eat, especially those with high sugar content in sticky foods and sugary beverages. The more sugar you eat, the more acid that is produced in your mouth. Sooner or later, this leads to tooth decay if not treated properly. When sugar is combined with plaque, they can act together to weaken the enamel, making you vulnerable to tooth decay.
- All sugars and most cooked starchy foods are the major promoters of plaque. These include milk, raisins, honey, dry cereal, hard candy and bread.
Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Decay
The most common and effective way to treat tooth decay is with a filling. Fillings aim to stop cavities from growing larger. Therefore, if you’re experiencing signs of tooth decay, go to your dentist immediately. Using products with fluoride can help prevent cavities and tooth decay. Fluoride can remineralize weak spots in the enamel and help rebuild those areas before they even become cavities.
Treatment of Cavities and Tooth Decay
The best treatment for cavities/tooth decay is a filling. If you have dental fillings, it’s important that you check any signs of wear and tear. The edges of dental fillings become rough over time, and the filling itself can weaken and break down after many years. Rough or weak fillings may make removal of the plaque more difficult to handle since plaque can build up in those areas.
When Do You Need Fillings?
If you develop tooth decay that has already progressed beyond the process of eroding the tooth enamel, your dentist will likely recommend a filling. Your dentist will remove the decayed material from the tooth and then place a filling that will restore the shape of the tooth.