Tooth cavities are something almost everyone encounters at some point in their life. Though they’re common in children because of their high-sugar diets, people of any age may find themselves with a cavity. They’re one of the most common health problems that people have. Our office is dedicated to the prevention of cavities and swift treatment when they do occur.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities are permanent damage to the hard surfaces of your tooth caused by tooth decay. It starts with the development of dental plaque. It’s a clear, sticky film that coats your teeth. When you’re eating a lot of sugars or starches, bacteria are feeding on them. If you’re not brushing your teeth properly, this film the bacteria forms continues to build up. It hardens to form tartar, creating a shield for the bacteria and making it more difficult to remove.
The byproduct from the bacteria is acidic and slowly starts eating through your tooth enamel. Little holes start forming, and larger areas of your enamel start to dissolve. The second layer of your tooth is softer, making it less resistant to these bacteria. The dentin layer has little tubes that communicate with the nerves of your tooth, making it start to trigger sensitivity.
When left alone, the bacteria continue to keep eating through your tooth, making it to the dental pulp layer. This is where the nerves and blood vessels of your tooth reside. The tissue swells up and becomes irritated, causing pain and sensitivity. The pain can radiate out into the jawbone. If the infection reaches the pulp layer, a root canal may also be needed for treatment.
Cavity Risk Factors
Anyone can get a cavity as long as they have natural teeth. But there are always things that can make you more likely to develop one. The biggest is not brushing your teeth enough and eating sugary, starchy foods. Other foods and drinks are also more likely to cling to your mouth longer. Saliva isn’t able to rinse them away as easily. These things include soda, chips, ice cream, and dried fruit.
Being a child or a senior adult means you’re more likely to get cavities, too. Young children have sugary diets and aren’t as good at brushing their teeth properly. When we get older, our teeth start to wear down from years of use, and the gums start to recede. This makes the teeth more susceptible to tooth decay.
Certain health conditions wear away the enamel on your teeth so that they’re more vulnerable to decay. Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause acid to come up into the mouth. Stomach acid is extremely damaging to your teeth, wearing away the enamel quickly. Eating disorders and frequent purging also cause an increase in acid, wearing down your teeth.
Lastly, a dry mouth can be more dangerous to your oral health than you may realize. Saliva is crucial to rinse away bacteria and food particles from your smile. It also contains things to help neutralize the acid that bacteria produce. Certain medications and medical treatments cause your mouth to become drier, increasing the likelihood of cavities.
Treat Tooth Cavities in Timonium, MD
The best way to prevent cavities is a dedicated oral healthcare routine. We provide patient education so that you know how to take care of your teeth properly. If you think you have a cavity, call our office immediately so that we can get it taken care of. Or schedule an appointment online to get proper treatment.