What Causes Cavities?


A common issue that sends people to the dentist outside of the regular annual checkups is tooth pain. Often, this pain may be caused by an intrusion down into the tooth by bacteria that has eaten away at the hard surface. A cavity is often the result of this digging and manifests as a hole in the tooth. The pain that results is due to the exposure of the nerves and roots of the tooth. How do cavities form, and what can you do to prevent them? Here is more information on this bothersome dental condition.

The Birth of a Cavity

Bacteria causes many problems in the human body. Whether it sits on an open wound on the skin or infiltrates the respiratory system, it can cause illness, lengthen recovery time, and become painful. When bacteria enters the mouth, it may be whisked away and neutralized by saliva, or it may find a welcoming spot on the surface of a tooth. Often the sugar consumed acts as a sticky welcome mat for bacteria and once it settles in, it can be difficult to remove unless it is done quickly. A proper brushing and flossing routine may help keep the teeth free and clear, but not always.

Bacteria Unimpeded 

The longer the bacteria take up residence, the better the chance that a cavity will develop. That’s because over time, the bacteria degrade the surface of the tooth and burrow under the hard surface. You may not notice this for quite awhile because there are no nerves in the tooth. However, once the bacteria make it deep enough, they start to hit the root of the tooth, which results in pain.

Cleaning Up the Damage 

Several factors determine how a cavity is handled. If an x-ray detects the cavity, it may not have affected the root of the tooth. Thus, a dental provider may be able to clean out the hole and seal it up with a filling. This helps prevent further bacteria from gaining access to pick up where it left off. If the invaders made it to the nerve, however, the infection may be severe and a root canal might be required. During this, the dentist or oral surgeon removes the infected tooth, cleans out the root and seals it with a crown. If not cared for properly, the infection can spread to adjacent teeth, causing widespread damage and pain.

Annual checkups with a dental provider are crucial to controlling cavities. Professional cleanings can help rid teeth of buildup and x-rays can help diagnose issues before they get worse. Contact a dentist, like a dentist in Cary, NC, to schedule an appointment today.

 Thanks to Alliance Dentistry for their insight into what causes cavities and how they are treated.