How Do Cavities Form?

By John Rink DDS on April 15, 2011

When it comes to taking care of your teeth, one of the best ways to prevent cavities from forming is to brush at least twice a day and to floss every night. (If you can, it’s recommended that you brush your teeth after every meal.) Of course, on top of this, you should visit our office twice a year so Charleston cosmetic dentist John F. Rink, DDS or Araby Keith Ammons, DMD can help perform routine cleanings and diagnostics.

Yet while you know how important it is to brush and floss and visit our office, have you ever stopped to find out how cavities form? A lot of people know what cavities are but actually don’t know exactly what causes them or why they occur. We’d like to take a brief moment right now to discuss what causes cavities and how they form.

Cavities also go by the term “dental caries.” However you refer to them, they are both forms of tooth decay. Essentially, cavities occur when bacteria in the mouth eats away at the outer layers of a tooth. The outer layer of the tooth is made of enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body. Bacteria in the mouth causes a film to form on the tooth called plaque. This plaque can be removed by brushing and flossing, but if plaque remains, it will damage the enamel over time. If some of the root structure of the tooth is exposed (which is common when someone has receding gums or suffers from gum disease), cavities can form under the gumline.

If you do have cavities, these can be dealt with in different ways. For minor cavities, Charleston dental fillings can be used to restore tooth structure. More advanced tooth decay will be best dealt with using inlays or onlays, which are similar to fillings but are intended to restore larger portions of a tooth’s structure. For major tooth decay where the integrity of a tooth is extremely affected, dental crowns may be used to cap the tooth, protecting it from further damage and restoring its appearance.

To learn more about ways that you can improve your dental health and fight tooth decay, please contact our Charleston cosmetic dentist today.

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