How do cavities develop?

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Many people will suffer with developing cavities at some point in their life. Cavities are annoying, uncomfortable and painful to deal with, and can even lead to tooth loss if left untreated. With it being such a common problem, many people are looking for answers to how cavities develop, how to avoid them, and what problems they can cause if left untreated.

In this article, we will explore these questions, and provide an insight into the development, and prevention, of cavities.


How are cavities formed?

During the first phase of developing cavities, plaque begins to form around your teeth. This occurs when sugars aren’t cleaned or removed properly from the teeth, and the bacteria within your mouth interacts with the sugar to create an acidic substance. Once this substance combines with bacteria, saliva and food particles in your mouth, it develops into a sticky film around your teeth, known as plaque.

Once plaque has formed, the acids within it start to erode away the enamel of your teeth, creating tiny openings within the exterior of teeth, which is the first stage of a cavity opening. Once the enamel has been eroded, the plaque will begin attacking the next layer of the tooth, which is a softer substance known as ‘dentin’.

The plaque will only keep eating away at the tooth if left untreated, right until it hits the inner tooth, or the ‘pulp’. Once this stage has been reached, the cavity is very advanced, which can make your tooth extremely sensitive and painful. At this point, the bone supporting the tooth can become affected as well. If the bacteria has reached an extreme point, your immune system might supply white blood cells to fight off the infection, leading to abscesses. If this occurs, root canal surgery may need to be considered.


How to prevent cavities

As frightening as cavities may sound, the prevention of them occurring is quite simple to put in place; an organised and consistent oral hygiene routine, accompanied with a balanced diet.

For starters, maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine is essential for looking after your teeth. Through brushing your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day, will clean your mouth from any excess food or bacteria left after a meal. Accompany brushing with flossing too, as this is a great way to clean in between the teeth too. If possible, use a soft bristled tooth brush, and do not apply too much pressure on your teeth when brushing.

Alongside a well-maintained oral hygiene routine, keep a healthy and balanced diet is another important factor to implement when it comes to looking after your teeth and preventing cavities from developing.

Eating foods that are healthy for your teeth such as a wide range of fruit, vegetables and dairy products, will help strengthen your teeth. Avoid consuming a lot of sweetened food and drinks, such as carbonated drinks or sweet treats, as these are full of sugar and will only encourage the development of cavities within your mouth. It is also important to avoid frequent snacking throughout the day, as this will assist with producing more acids in your mouth, which attack the teeth.


When is it time to see a dentist?

You should see your dentist once every six months, due to the fact that cavities do not have any symptoms associated with them, when they first begin to develop. Having your teeth checked and cleaned regularly means that cavities, or any other dental problem can be spotted and resolved a lot quicker.

If you are experiencing pain in a tooth, or would like more information regarding cavities, why not contact Malvern dentists today, to see how we can help you!


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