What is
a dental cavity?

A cavity is the destruction of the tooth surface creating a defect.  Treatment is needed once part of the tooth has cavitated or has broken away.  If a tooth with a cavity is not addressed and treated, in time your tooth can fracture or you can develop pain and/or an abscess. 

WHAT CAUSES CAVITIES?

 

The more plaque (bacteria) you have in your mouth and how frequently you eat sugary or acidic foods increases your risk for developing cavities.

WHAT IS THE SCIENCE BEHIND THAT?

The pH of our mouth is near neutral.  When the pH drops, a more acidic environment is created causing the enamel of your teeth to become demineralized (or break down on a microscopic level.)  A demineralized area of your tooth is a weakened area.  Constant demineralization of your tooth over time will cause it to become cavitated.

 

An acidic environment is created by:

  1. Plaque and bacteria that break down sugar for energy and produce organic ACIDS as by products.       

  2.  Eating acidic foods  

 

HOW CAN I PREVENT CAVITIES?

 

DIET

Your Saliva helps protect your teeth from cavities.  You have increased salvation during eating.  After about 30 minutes of eating your saliva helps return the pH of you mouth to a more neutral phase. If you are constantly sipping on a drink other than water, or snacking throughout the day your mouth can never return to a normal pH and it will continue to be in an acidic phase, favoring the breakdown of the enamel.   Cavity formation is stimulated more by the frequency of sugar intake rather than the quantity.  Limiting the quantity is also important to prevent other health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

 

GOOD ORAL HYGIENE

Plaque free tooth surfaces do not decay.  Complete elimination of plaque is impossible but daily removal of plaque by flossing, toothbrushing, and rinsing are the best measure for preventing cavities and gum disease.

 

ROUTINE DENTAL VISITS

The general recommendation is to see the dentist every 6 months for a routine cleaning and exam.

If you are at a higher risk for cavities or gum disease you may benefit from seeing the dentist every 3-4 months.  This would be further discussed after a comprehensive exam is completed.

By seeing your dentist regularly preventive measures can be taken such as applying fluoride, applying sealants, or identifying cavities in the early stages.

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