How Do Cavities Form?

by drrapisarda
By the time you’re an adult, it is highly likely that you have had a run-in with cavities at least once – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 92 percent of adults have experienced dental caries, also known as cavities, in their permanent teeth at one time or another.

With those statistics, it should come as no surprise that dentists like Boston general dentist Robert Rapisarda encounter cavities among their patients every day. Cavities can be treated with fillings, which are recommended for smaller fillings, or dental crowns, for patients that have experienced severe tooth decay. But where do those cavities come from? That’s a great question – the more you know about cavities, the better prepared you will be to seek out effective treatment or, with the right preventative measures, avoid them all together.

How Do Cavities Form?

The outer layer of every tooth is a hard translucent material called enamel. This enamel protects the nerves and soft dentin layer beneath its surface. But it is not invincible. Bacteria and acids can eat away at the enamel over time, decaying your teeth and forming holes in the enamel that dentists refer to as cavities.

A cavity doesn’t happen overnight – tooth decay is a process that happens gradually and in steps. When decay starts to take hold of a tooth, the first visible sign is a white or discolored spot where the tooth’s outer enamel has begun to wear away. If your cavity is caught during this early stage, you may be able to reverse the decay process and avoid more invasive treatment options.

If a problem spot is not treated early, however, acids from food, bacteria, and tartar buildup will continue to eat away at your enamel until a larger hole or cavity is formed in your enamel. This leaves the underlying dentin exposed and prone to further decay and infection.

How Are Cavities Treated?

If your dentist discovers a cavity, you may have several possible treatment options depending on the state, severity, and position of the cavity itself. If your tooth is still in the white spot stage, for example, you may be able to solve the problem through proactive measures such as brushing your teeth with a special enamel-building toothpaste or tooth strengthening mouthwash.

Once a cavity has formed, your dentist will likely recommend drilling away the decayed part of the tooth and replacing it with a filling. Fillings can be made of many different materials – at the office of Dr. Rapisarda, we offer tooth-colored fillings made of composite resin that can be matched perfectly to your existing teeth for a completely natural look and feel.

Cavities that have progressed to the point where they are larger and more severe may require more support than a filling alone can give. In these cases, your dentist will likely recommend dental crowns to fit over the rest of your affected tooth.

Learn More about Cavities and How to Treat Them

If you suspect that you may have a cavity forming, don’t wait to seek treatment – the sooner you address the problem, the simpler treatment will be. Our cosmetic dentistry office is dedicated to offering state-of-the-art treatments for all major dental issues. Contact us to schedule an appointment and learn more about your cavity treatment options today. 

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