What Are Dental Cavities?

What is a Cavity?

Dental cavity is a result of acids produced by oral bacteria

Dental cavity is a hole created on your tooth as a result of acids produced by oral bacteria. Cavity formation starts off by bacteria sticking to plaque which has accumulated on your teeth surfaces. These harmful bacteria produce an acidic byproduct which slowly dissolves away your tooth structure resulting in dental cavities. If you suspect you have a cavity, you should go visit a dentist immediately. 

What Causes Dental Cavities?

Three things are required before a cavity can be formed: 

  • Bacteria
  • Sugar
  • Tooth

First, the bacteria must attach themselves to the plaque gathered on your teeth. Once attached, these bacteria process sugars in your diet. This results in a harmful acidic byproduct which gradually destroys your tooth structure. As your tooth structure is destroyed, a cavity is now formed on your tooth. 

At What Age am I at Risk for Cavities?

Cavities can arise at any age, young or old. So long as there are teeth in your mouth, you are at risk for developing dental cavities. Children begin developing cavities on their baby teeth soon after their first teeth come out. Adult teeth come out when you’re around 6 to 7 years old and you can develop cavities on these teeth right away if you’re not taking care of your teeth. Childhood and college years are when we are most susceptible to developing cavities. We then spend the rest of our lives trying to fix and repair the damage that these initial cavities have done to our teeth!

Where do Cavities Form?

Cavities can form on any tooth surface, on both baby teeth as well as adult teeth. Cavities always starts off on the outer surfaces of teeth where sugar and bacteria accumulate. The most common location for cavities to form is on the chewing surfaces of back teeth or in-between your teeth. So long as bacteria can manage to stick to teeth surfaces, they can manage to create a cavity. This is why it's so important to brush and floss regularly to prevent plaque from gathering on your teeth and creating a cavity.

What Happens if You Ignore Cavities?

Once a cavity reaches your nerve it creates an infection and toothache

If left untreated, cavity bugs start working their way deeper and deeper into your tooth. As cavities work their way deeper, they eventually manage to reach your tooth nerve. This causes an infection and results in a toothache. The best way to avoid reaching this stage is to fix dental cavities in their earlier stages by getting a dental filling done. Once the cavity has reached your tooth nerve, getting a filling is no longer an option and you will require a root canal treatment or tooth extraction instead.

How can you Prevent Cavity Formation?

The top three things to keep in mind to avoid cavity formation are:

  • Follow a healthy diet with limited sugar intake
  • Brush and floss your teeth daily
  • Visit your dentist regularly

Cavity bugs particularly like processed sugars found in sweets, candies and sodas. Minimize your sugar intake and rinse or brush your teeth after consuming processed sugars. You should brush and floss your teeth daily at a minimum. If you fail to clean your teeth properly, plaque accumulates on your teeth. Sooner or later you will end up with a cavity formation on your tooth. Finally, visiting the dentist twice a year is a great way to make sure your teeth are clean and cavity free. Dentists can review your hygiene habits, clean your teeth and help with preventive treatments.

Brush 'n Floss Yo Teeth!
Ali John Jazayeri, DDS

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