Dental caries are the result of dental decay. Decay is the result of bacteria consuming sugars inside of your mouth. When bacteria feed off of these sugars they produce lactic acid which dissolves the enamel, creating holes which are called cavities.
The best way to stop cavities is through prevention. Good oral hygiene including brushing, flossing and rinsing will allow you to reach all surfaces of your teeth thereby removing leftover food particles and debris. Fluoride is also excellent at fighting cavities. When acids and bacteria break down the enamel of the teeth they begin a process known as demineralization. Your body naturally fights this by rebuilding the enamel through a process known as remineralization. When products that contain fluoride such as mouthwash or toothpaste are used, teeth will tend to rebuild lost enamel.
When cavities begin to develop they are tiny and can often go unnoticed. A toothache is one symptom of decay. When left untreated, cavities may spread to the rest of the tooth including the inside portion of the tooth called the dentin.
Cavities must be treated by a dentist. If the decay isn’t too severe, a filling may be the best form of treatment, as opposed to an extraction or root canal. Fillings can be in the form of amalgam (silver colored metal filling) or composite resins (natural tooth colored filling materials). Fillings may become worn and require replacement after a long period of time. Also, just like any other part of the tooth, they must be cleaned well to prevent further decay from forming.
If you have a cavity or think you may have one, it’s important that you see a dentist as soon as possible. X-rays and examinations can catch cavities early and prevent a small problem from becoming a larger problem down the road. Our team at Smiles Unlimited Dentistry, P.C., is available to identify and treat all of your dental problems.