Teeth Cavities

Caries (also called tooth decay or cavities) are the physical deterioration of tooth structure caused by bacteria and acids. Understanding how cavities form can help you reduce your chances of decay and future dental work.

Each time you eat, the bacteria inside of your mouth process food particles, they secrete acids and produce a biofilm. As this plaque accumulates throughout your mouth, it holds acids, sugars, and bacteria against your teeth. In turn, those by-products start to corrode away at your enamel.

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the entire human body (even stronger than bone).

So, it means a lot to say that bacterial plaque and acids can “eat” their way through your tooth structure.

Cavities form when;

  • a person experiences frequent plaque exposure (such as snacking throughout the day),
  • poor plaque removal methods, or
  • has a diet that’s high in certain things like processed carbohydrates.
  • even if you drink diet soda or sports drinks, those beverages have acidic pH levels that can contribute to tooth decay.

If you’re eating or snacking every couple of hours, or sipping on a diet soda all afternoon, you’re essentially exposing your teeth to more acid than if you were to eat just 3-4 times per day and drink water between meals.

When you don’t brush and floss effectively every day, plaque spends more time against your tooth structure and thus creates an environment that is conducive to cavity formation.

Ways to Prevent Cavities

There are several methods that our Saving Smiles dentists and hygienists recommend for reducing the risk of cavities. Here are just a few:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Water naturally rinses away acids and reduces bacterial exposure to teeth.
  • Floss every single day. Failing to clean between teeth is one of the most significant factors in cavity formation.
  • Brush thoroughly along the gum lines, where plaque is heaviest. Spend at least two minutes brushing, twice per day. Consider investing in an electric toothbrush for more efficient plaque removal.
  • Schedule regular checkups at our Saving Smiles practices to screen for demineralized enamel or signs of decay.

Any tooth can get a cavity, but some of the first places to decay usually forms are on the chewing surfaces of back teeth. Since these areas can be more challenging to clean, plaque and acids tend to stay on them for longer amounts of time. Incorporating a thorough brushing and flossing routine is vital.

Cavities in Babies

Some people ask if tooth decay in baby (primary) teeth needs to be fixed. After all, those teeth eventually fall out.

Untreated decay can easily spread into adjacent teeth, including developing adult teeth as they erupt into the mouth.

It’s always best to treat paediatric tooth decay as soon as it’s diagnosed.

Early intervention helps prevent dental emergencies, extensive treatment, and unwanted long-term effects.

Simply pulling a baby tooth because it is decayed could cause permanent orofacial changes and issues with tooth eruption patterns, contributing to orthodontic problems and speech issues.

The best solution is to maintain your child’s baby teeth as they act as natural placeholders and guides for the adult teeth around them.

How to Tell if I Have a Cavity?

Diagnosing tooth decay at an early stage requires special imaging and instruments. The sooner a cavity is intercepted, the less damage it can do to your smile.

Not all cavities hurt, but if you’re experiencing pain or sweet sensitivity (even when you’re drinking something like flavoured coffee or fruit juice) be sure to let us know.

By the time a cavity starts to form (visible dark spots or holes in your tooth), it’s crucial to have it treated right away. Waiting too long can allow the decay to spread into the nerve of your tooth, requiring root canal treatment.

When to See a Dentist

Make sure you’re getting regular dental check-ups to stop cavities in their earliest stages. If you’re looking for a new dentist in Northampton, call Saving Smiles today!

01327 342 412 for Weedon [email protected] or 01933 312 992 for Rushden [email protected]