We all want to maintain healthy and attractive smiles, which is why it’s so important that patients understand how dental decay develops. Once you have this information, you will be better able to care for your own smile in the years to come. Our Toluca Lake dentists have put together this short primer on how decay develops, and what you can do about it.
How Do Cavities Develop?
A cavity is essentially an infection that infiltrates dental enamel, then dentin, then the core of the tooth. Depending on when the cavity is identified, and you’re able to begin treatment, you may be able to treat your cavity with a simple filling, a customized crown, or root canal therapy.
Bacteria are able to infect tooth material because the acids produced by these bacteria soften enamel, through a process called demineralization. Acidic foods and drinks can also weaken enamel.
Am I At Risk For Developing Cavities?
We all of the potential to develop cavities, but there are certain factors that can increase your risk:
- Inadequate oral hygiene
- Acidic foods and beverages—the longer that these substances are allowed to sit on the teeth, the more harmful they are
- Chronic dry mouth
- Acid reflux disease—this condition brings stomach acids up into your mouth
How Do I Know If I Have A Cavity?
When they first develop, many cavities are hard to spot, and pretty asymptomatic. This is why it’s so important to complete semi-annual professional cleanings, as these allow our dental team to identify infected dental enamel you may otherwise miss.
As cavities get worse, you may notice:
- Persistent, hard-to-treat bad breath
- Tooth pain, especially when consuming hot or cold substances
- Discoloration on the enamel surface
The longer that cavities are able to progress unaddressed, the more damage they inflict on the tooth. If you think you’re dealing with a cavity, please seek treatment right away.
To learn more about dental decay and the best ways to care for your smile, please contact our Toluca Lake dentists. You can call our office or use the Contact Us page to submit a question for our team.