How Do Cavities Form?

Cavities are among the most common dental issues people experience. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 42% of children aged two to 11 have had dental cavities in their baby teeth. While kids are more likely to develop cavities, adults remain susceptible to them. Understanding how cavities form is critical for maintaining your dental health. Use this article to gain insight into that matter and pick up tips that can help you avoid an unplanned trip to the dental office.

Plaque and Tartar Form

The first stage of tooth decay is the plaque formation. Plaque refers to the bits of leftover food, bacteria, and saliva that form on your teeth. The accumulation of plaque is inevitable, but that alone is not a major issue. Problems only emerge when you allow the plaque on your teeth to remain for extended periods.

You will notice plaque start to form while you’re eating. Eating any type of food can cause plaque formation. Foods with plenty of sugars and carbohydrates are more likely to leave harmful residue.

The plaque on your teeth can also turn into tartar eventually. Aside from damaging your teeth, tartar can also cause discoloration. Your teeth may appear yellowish or darker because of the tartar.

How do plaque and tartar stay on your teeth so long that it causes damage? Forgetting to brush and floss your teeth can lead to the accumulation of both substances. Tartar may not be removed through simple brushing or flossing. You will need dental cleaning to remove that type of plaque.

Demineralization Begins

Now that plaque and tartar have formed on your teeth, demineralization will likely begin. You can tell that demineralization has started if white spots have appeared on your teeth. These spots are typically on the smaller side.

The onset of demineralization should prompt immediate action on your part. Your teeth are already more vulnerable during this stage because they are losing minerals. Consulting a dentist may be necessary to confirm demineralization. They can evaluate your symptoms and determine the steps you must take to prevent further tooth decay.

Enamel Wears Away

Demineralization paves the way for further damage. The immediate damage may come in the form of enamel decay. The decay of enamel spells major trouble for your teeth. After all, you’re relying on enamel to shield your teeth from serious damage. The continued deterioration of enamel may even cause small holes to start forming on your teeth.

Despite enamel being one of the most durable substances inside the human body, it remains susceptible to damage. While the holes caused by enamel decay may be hard to detect, the discoloration should be more prominent. Brown spots on your teeth indicate that the enamel is wearing away.

Dentin Deteriorates

The next stage of cavity forms involves your dentin. Dentin is the substance found just beneath the enamel that also provides essential protection. Aside from keeping your teeth strong and stable, dentin is also responsible for protecting your nerves.

The breakdown of dentin spells major trouble for your dental health. First off, losing dentin means you will start to feel the effects of tooth decay. Your teeth will begin to hurt at this stage. The intensity of your pain will also increase as the dentin continues to wear away.

Dentin deterioration is also bad news because it can trigger the acceleration of tooth decay. The dentin layer is significantly softer than enamel, so it’s more vulnerable to damage. You should schedule an appointment at a dental office when your teeth start hurting. More intense discoloration is also another indicator of dentin deterioration.

Tooth Pulp Sustains Damage

After the enamel and dentin, the next target for the plaque and tartar is your tooth pulp. The tooth pulp contains blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves. The tooth pulp is also in charge of sustaining your dental health. Given the different elements in your tooth pulp, it shouldn’t be surprising that damage to it can cause numerous issues.

The signs of damage to the tooth pulp include swelling and redness. The discoloration that has been present throughout the stages of tooth decay also continues to this point. This time around, your affected teeth may start to turn black. You can also expect to experience more intense pain as a result of damage to your tooth pulp.

Pus Accumulates

If you still haven’t sought treatment in response to tooth pulp damage, you will soon notice pus accumulate in your mouth. To be more specific, the pus may collect in your teeth and gums. You are dealing with an abscess at this point.

The pain coming from your teeth and gums will be impossible to ignore. You may also feel the pain in other parts of your face. Parts of your face may also swell due to your tooth abscess.

The damage caused by the pus pooling in your mouth can go beyond your head. Even your neck may start to hurt because of the complications related to the abscess. Although rare, other parts of your body may also suffer from the ill effects of your condition.

Tooth and Bone Loss Commence

The final stage of cavity formation may lead to you losing your teeth. That’s a potential outcome of the pus collecting your teeth and gums. Unfortunately, the impact of the abscess may not be limited to one tooth. Your other teeth could also become less stable because of all the damage wrought by the abscess.

Bone loss is another possible outcome of unchecked tooth decay. It could happen if the abscess makes its way to your gums and causes an infection. You will likely need surgery to address the bone loss caused by the abscess.

What Are the Risk Factors for Tooth Decay?

Now that we know about the progression of tooth decay, we can touch on the factors that contribute to your dental issues. Diet is a potential risk factor for accelerated tooth decay. As we mentioned earlier, foods rich in sugars and carbohydrates are notorious for causing tooth damage. Sugary drinks can also cause your teeth to decay faster.

The frequency of your food and drink consumption can also affect the rate of your tooth decay. Eating several meals or snacks throughout the day makes your teeth more vulnerable to bacteria. Enjoying meals throughout the day wouldn’t be such an issue if you could brush after each one. If that’s not possible, limiting your meals would be best.

You may also be putting yourself at greater risk for tooth decay because of your poor dental habits. Assessing your hygiene habits can help you identify potential issues. Scheduling an appointment at a dental office to gain more insight into your habits can also prove helpful.

Lastly, you should know that family history can affect how susceptible you are to tooth decay. Speak to your loved ones and find out if they dealt with dental issues when they were younger. After learning more about your family history when it comes to dental health, you can mention any concerns to your dentist.

Working closely with a dentist can help you avoid tooth decay. Get in touch with our dental office at Bright Side Dental today, and let’s put your prevention plan in place. We can also provide implants, dentures, and bridges if you have already experienced tooth loss.

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