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How Do Cavities Form?

By Stephen Rogers on December 05, 2014

A man smiling at homeAt Greater Long Island Dental, we feel that restorative dentistry should stress enhancing dental health and educating patients on preventative measures. This is why we take a fair amount of time explaining our treatments in detail and ensuring that our patients know what their options are for enhancing their smile at home. With these matters in mind, we'd like to look at some of the basics when it comes to dental care and cover the formation of cavities and how they can be treated.

What is a cavity?

Also known as dental caries, cavities are decayed portions of tooth structure in which the enamel and/or dentin portion of a tooth has been weakened and eaten away. Cavities begin small and then grow as the decay becomes more pronounced.

Oral Bacteria, Dental Plaque, and Tartar

The primary cause of cavities is oral bacteria producing a substance known as dental plaque. This oral bacteria normally occurs in a patient's mouth and is also responsible for gum disease and bad breath. When the oral bacteria feeds on food particles on your teeth, a biofilm called dental plaque is produced so the bacteria can remain on the tooth's surface.

Allowed to harden, the dental plaque turns into a substance known as tartar. The tartar is a rough surface that makes it easier for plaque to form and accumulate. Tartar and plaque thus result in major threats to the health of your teeth as well as your gums.

The Formation of a Cavity

Dental plaque is very acidic, and allowed to remain in place, the plaque eats into the enamel layer of the teeth, causing the formation of a cavity. Left untreated, the cavity can grow in size, going beyond the enamel layer of the tooth down into the dentin and possibly internal chamber of a tooth where the dental pulp is located.

Foods and Conditions That Make Cavities Worse

Sugary foods and beverages and sticky foods can make tooth decay more likely or much worse. This includes sugary pastries, dried fruits, hard candies, ice cream, and soft drinks.

If a person does not brush and floss regularly, this can also lead to the faster or more serious formation of cavities due to inattentive dental hygiene.

Many times, dry mouth can also contribute to the development of tooth decay or the severity of tooth decay since saliva is not present to help keep food particles off the teeth.

Treatment Options for Cavities

The best treatment option for cavities is the use of a dental restoration of some kind. Dental restorations rebuild damaged tooth structure and restore the health of the tooth being treated. Common restorations are dental fillings, inlays, onlays, and crowns, with fillings the most conservative restoration and crowns the most advanced.

Deep cleaning treatments (root planing and scaling) may also be recommended in order to address plaque and tartar deposits located at the patient's gumline.

Tips for Preventing Cavities

The best way to fight cavities is to consider the following dental hygiene tips:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Floss your teeth every night
  • Avoid consuming sugary substances and excessive snacking
  • Drink water to remain hydrated and help keep your teeth clean
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups

Schedule a Consultation at Greater Long Island Dental

If you would like to learn more about treating cavities and other ways that your dental health can be improved, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at Greater Long Island Dental looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you have a beautiful smile that's healthy as well.

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Massapequa Office

101 New York Ave
Massapequa, NY 11758

Open Today 9:00am - 2:00pm

More Info Directions (516) 468-7103