Teeth cavities are small holes that form on the surface of teeth as a result of decay. Cavities are one of the most common dental problems worldwide, which require treatment in the form of fillings. If not treated in a timely manner then they can lead to further complications such as a tooth fracture or a pulp infection. However, the good news is that cavities can be prevented.
What are teeth made of?
Teeth are protected on the exterior by enamel (a dense, mineralized layer). The enamel on healthy teeth shields the underlying softer dentin and the pulp (innermost nervous tissue). Additionally, the cementum (calcified substance) surrounds the root of the teeth.
How does tooth decay begin?
It all starts when regular oral hygiene maintenance such brushing and flossing is ignore. A thick layer called plaque (comprising of food debris and bacteria) forms on the surfaces of the teeth. Over time the plaque hardens and turns into calculus. Both the plaque and calculus provide an ideal environment for the harmful bacteria to grow.
Bacteria and tooth decay
These bacteria utilize the sugars and carbohydrates from the plaque and calculus as their food and release chemicals that increase the acidity of the oral environment. When the acidity of the oral cavity rises beyond a certain limit, minerals from the tooth enamel dissolves. This process is known as demineralization.
How are cavities formed on decayed teeth?
If this situation continues unchecked, the enamel becomes so porous that holes start to form on the tooth surface. The following may occur:
- The weakening of the tooth structure – when the enamel becomes demineralized, the tooth structure becomes so weak that it may get chipped or fractured.
- Tooth sensitivity – when the enamel is destroyed, the underlying dentin and pulp layers are exposed. The dental pulp contains blood vessels and nerves that sense temperature and pressure. When the nerves in the pulp are exposed to the cavity, the tooth becomes sensitive to hot and cold liquids.
- Pulp inflammation – if the tooth exposure is not treated timely through a dental filling, it can result in the irreversible inflammation of the pulp. At this point, there might be extreme pain and the person may need an emergency dentist to perform a root canal operation to save the tooth from extraction.
But all this can be avoided by eating teeth-friendly foods, daily oral hygiene and visiting the dentists at Las Vegas Smile for checkups. The dentist will be able to detect tooth demineralization and take measures to stop it.