What Causes Cavities?

Preventive dental care for the whole familyOur teeth: These pearly little powerhouses help us chew the food that nourishes our bodies and helps us stay healthy and strong. Our teeth also help to make a good first impression when we’re introduced to somebody new so we should really appreciate them more.

People have two sets of teeth in their lives: their baby teeth and their adult teeth. Once you have your adult teeth, usually by age twelve or thirteen, it’s very important to properly care for them as you won’t be getting anymore naturally (except wisdom teeth but that’s a tale for another day). The most common threat to the longevity of your teeth are cavities.

What Is A Cavity?

Cavities are what it’s called when tooth decay has weakened and opened holes — hence the name —  in your tooth enamel, exposing the sensitive soft tissues and nerves inside. Cavities can make you feel sensitivity and discomfort in the affected tooth as well as making your tooth vulnerable to bacteria which can cause infections. If left untreated, cavities can eventually make chewing properly difficult, limiting your dietary options and making it hard to get proper nutrition.

Cavities are the most frequently diagnosed ailment in human beings after the common cold. But what causes this threat to our smiles? What can we do to fix them? And what can we do to prevent cavities so we don’t have to fix them?  Dr. John Hendricks of Lowcountry Dental Center in Bluffton, SC has the answers.

How Do Cavities Form?

Our mouths contain live bacteria, most of which is relatively harmless on its own. These bacteria gather and form plaque in places that are hard for us to clean such as in between teeth and right at the gum line. When we eat foods that contain carbohydrates such as sugars (like in cookies and candy) or starches (like in potato chips), the bacteria in our mouths break these components down. This creates acids that bind to the plaque already on our teeth and eat away at their enamel.

How Are Cavities Treated?

Cavities are usually treated by your dentist with fillings — named such because in this treatment your dentist fills in and reinforces weakened areas of the tooth enamel with various hard substances. Fillings stop the process of decay by reinforcing the compromised part of the tooth, preventing bacteria and acids from eating away any further. Fillings can be completed with composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver or glass ionomer. Your dentist will consult with you to decide which material would work best for your teeth.

Preventing Cavities

It is far simpler to prevent something than to fix it once it breaks. It’s the same with cavities. Brushing after meals or at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste is recommended to remove the plaque that may have formed.

Dentists also suggest cutting down on carbohydrates and keeping yourself properly hydrated. A dry mouth can hasten the acidic breakdown of your teeth. Daily flossing helps clear away the plaque and bacteria in those hard to reach spaces between your teeth to reduce your risk of cavities.

Most important part of prevention is regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. For those patients in Bluffton, SC area, call (843) 284-7340 or schedule an appointment online to consult with Dr. Hendricks at Lowcountry Dental Center. If you think you may be suffering from cavity or would just like a cleaning to prevent them, contact us today!


70 Pennington Dr.
Suite 7
Bluffton, SC 29910

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