How Cavities are Formed

If you’ve ever had a cavity filled, you know that it can be a bit of an annoyance. Your mouth remains frozen for a few hours after your appointment, and the sounds of the drill can be a little off putting. It might surprise you, but at Dr. Beatrice Leung Dentistry, we want to ensure you are cavity free, just as much as you do! That said, there is really only one way to help protect your mouth from cavities, and that is healthy dental care practices. This means regular checkups, and of course, brushing and flossing every day. It’s also important to understand what exactly causes cavities, and why it’s so important to get them filled in a timely manner.

For your knowledge, we’ve developed a step by step guide to educate you on cavities.

Demineralization: The Early Start of Decay

There’s a lot happening in your mouth. You’ve got good bacteria and bad bacteria, each vying for the top position. You also have minerals in your teeth and also in your saliva, like calcium, phosphate, and fluoride from toothpaste or water. As you eat sugars and starches, your teeth are exposed to acid. This acid chews away at the minerals in your teeth, and begins a silent battle. On the one hand, your teeth are rebuilding from the minerals you take in. On the other hand, the acid is trying to break them down. When the minerals are pulled away from your teeth, they turn white and are referred to as “demineralized.” The minerals may be able to be built back up again, or the tooth can decay.

After Decay Sets in, Cavity Fillings are the Next Step

You can help prevent decay by brushing and remineralizing with fluoride. Unfortunately however, once decay sets in, it has to be removed, and the first repair method is a filling. If the decay is detected early, perhaps at a regular checkup, the filling is generally small, and the tooth remains strong and intact around it.

When Decay Grows, the Treatment Does Too

If you aren’t able to make it into the dentist, the decay will continue to grow. There’s no standard timeline as to how quickly it will spread, or how much time a person has to correct it. However, once it spreads, it can take over multiple surfaces of the tooth, or move inwards, towards the pulp of the tooth. If enough tooth structure is damaged by decay, the repair method is to crown the tooth. If it progresses beyond that, the tooth must be extracted. If decay moves inwards, towards the pulp, or vitality of the tooth, it can become inflamed or infected. This is why people sometimes need root canals- the pulp of the tooth has become infected, or the tooth has died, and the remaining “sick” pulp must be removed and the hole filled.

Schedule with a Toronto Dental Office Today

The good news is that most dental woes can be prevented. To schedule your next appointment with us, where we will perform a detailed cavity check, please contact us. You can reach us on our main office line at (416) 927-9085, Tuesday to Thursday during regular business hours, and Friday and Saturday on our shortened schedule. We look forward to hearing from you.