Everyone knows that a poor oral health routine will eventually lead to a cavity or two, and we do our best to avoid getting them. But when it comes to any aspect of your health, knowledge is power in keeping yourself healthy. While knowing that brushing and flossing will keep cavities away, it’s important to understand just how cavities are formed in the first place to apply a bit of method to the madness. If you’ve ever wondered just how your teeth form cavities (also known as dental caries), keep reading to learn a bit more!
Beginning with Bacteria
Like so many health ailments, cavities begin with bacteria. While there are both good and bad bacteria in our mouths, the bad can be truly ugly. When you eat, certain bad bacteria have a field day and start to consume the sugars in your food and drinks. As they do this, the sugar turns to acid and combines with other bacteria and food particles to form a sticky substance known as plaque. When plaque and food aren’t brushed away, the acidic nature of these substances starts to wear away the protective layer of your teeth, also known as enamel. The small holes produced in your enamel are the very first signs of the formation of a cavity.
Down to Dentin and Beyond
Once the bacteria and acid have infiltrated the enamel, it will continue eating away at the next, softer layer of your teeth, which is called dentin. The soft nature of this layer is easily worn away, allowing the bacteria and acid to enter into the inner tooth, or pulp. Once a cavity has reached this level, the bone may start to become irritated and you will likely experience pain when eating or drinking certain foods. Depending on the severity of the decay, your body may have an immune response and send white blood cells to the area to fight off infection. If this happens, an abscess may form and it’s possible you could need a root canal to treat the problem.
The Best Offense is a Good Defense
In order to avoid cavities and decay, it’s vitally important that you take diligent care of your oral health. Brushing away food—particularly foods high in sugar—is your best bet when it comes to stopping bacteria from turning those sugars to acid. Be sure to brush for at least two minutes twice a day, and never go to bed with food or any drink other than water lingering in your mouth. Additionally, floss daily to clear away the plaque and bacteria that brushing just can’t reach.
Now that you have an understanding of how dental caries form, the reason for diligent brushing and flossing should be clearer than ever. If you feel you do a good job keeping up with your oral health but still succumb to cavities, it’s time to talk to your dentist about what else you can do to strengthen your teeth.
To schedule a consultation or a routine dental checkup, give us a call at College Drive Dental Associates in Palos Heights today!