How Do Cavities Form and How Can They Be Prevented?
By Patrick Casey on June 01, 2014
Everybody has heard of them, and most people have experienced at least one in their lives: the dreaded tooth cavities, clinically known as dental caries. Cavities seem not to discriminate, affecting the young and old alike. While there are numerous highly effective restorative dentistry procedures available to treat cavities and return form and function to the mouth, avoiding cavities to begin with is the best possible course of action. Given how cavities seem to pop up in even the healthiest mouths, however, how can a person avoid them?
At Smile Montreal, cavities are among the most common oral health problems we diagnose in our patients, yet we find that many of our patients have no idea how they form, let alone how to prevent them from forming. This is why we provide our patients with extensive oral health education, giving them the tools they need to be proactive in preserving their precious teeth in between routine visits to our dental practice. The more you understand about cavities and how they form, the better able you will be to maintain excellent oral health in the short and long term.
The Formation of Cavities
Natural tooth enamel is one of the strongest substances in nature, and it provides exceptional protection for our teeth. It protects the teeth as they tear into hard and crunchy foods and grind them into pieces that can be swallowed and digested, which is no small feat, especially over the course of decades of wear. Nevertheless, the enamel can eventually become damaged, whether by trauma or, more commonly, the build-up of plaque on the surfaces of the teeth. If not removed through regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings, this plaque will eventually penetrate the enamel and damage the more vulnerable underlying layer of the tooth, the dentin.
As the tooth decays, small holes and crevices begin to form. These cavities - literally empty spaces once occupied by healthy tooth matter - weaken teeth and threaten the pulp located in the inner chambers of the teeth, called the root canals. If left untreated, cavities will eventually extend to the root canals, leading to infection of the dental pulp and, eventually, the death of the tooth.
Fortunately, preventing cavities from forming is a fairly straightforward matter for most people. While some people, sadly, are genetically predisposed to tooth decay and cavities, most are able to prevent cavities by:
- Visiting the dentist at least twice a year for professional exams and cleanings, as recommended by the American Dental Association
- Brushing their teeth at least twice a day and after every meal
- Using fluoride toothpaste with a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Avoiding sugary and highly acidic foods
- Minimizing or eliminating consumption of carbonated beverages, even those without sugar
- Not smoking or chewing tobacco
- Scheduling dental appointments at the first sign of potential oral health problems
Learn More about Cavity Formation and Prevention
To learn more about the formation and prevention of cavities, or to schedule your initial dental examination at our state-of-the-art cosmetic and general dentistry practice, please contact Smile Montreal today.
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“I felt more like I was talking to a friend than I was to a dentist.” Nancy Lanzolla, Former Patient