Cavities and Tooth Decay

Filling with dental composite photopolymer material using rabbders

When decay goes unchecked in the human mouth, damaged areas will form on the surface of your teeth. This damage comes in the forms of holes or tiny openings in your teeth known as cavities. There are a variety of things that can lead to the development of these points of damage, but all of them ultimately come back to bacteria that cause decay. As one of the most frequently seen health problems in the world, they can appear in anyone of any age who has teeth. Left untreated, these simple points of decay can get larger and dig deeper into your teeth.

What Symptoms Are Associated With Dental Cavities?

Since cavities can appear anywhere in your mouth, and to varying degrees, there is a range of symptoms that can indicate that you have one. The most common symptoms associated with cavities include the following:

  • Spontaneous pain centering on your teeth or gums, occasionally radiating out to surrounding areas.
  • Temperature sensitivity in your teeth.
  • Painful reactions when eating something sugary or acidic.
  • Visible pitting or the appearance of holes in your teeth
  • White, brown, or black staining appearing on your teeth
  • Pain resulting from pressure applied to your teeth, such as when chewing

Left untreated, your cavities can result in significant pain, the formation of abscesses, and the ultimate need to have the tooth extracted. While there are multiple steps on the way to losing your tooth, you can halt them in their tracks by avoiding cavities altogether.

What Causes Cavities and Tooth Decay?

The primary cause of cavities is tooth decay. As a gradual process, there are multiple stages to the creation of the cavity. Below we’ll cover the typical steps that occur during the development and growing severity of a cavity.

  • Formation of Plaque – Plaque is a tacky transparent film that grows over the surface of your teeth. Sugars and starches are primary drivers of plaque, but any food can cause it to appear if you aren’t properly maintaining your teeth. The plaque that remains on your teeth can harden into tartar, appearing both above and below the gum line.
  • Plaque Acid Begins Damaging Teeth – Bit by bit, the acid produced by plaque begins wearing down at the surface of the tooth. Over time tiny openings begin to form, eventually becoming severe enough to let the acid get past the enamel and to the softer dentin underneath. The porous nature of dentin means that this is where sensitive teeth start.
  • Growing Tooth Destruction – Eventually, the advancing decay will begin to destroy all aspects of your tooth, ultimately getting down to the sensitive pulp where blood vessels and nerve live. The bacteria will initially irritate the pulp, causing it to swell painfully. Eventually, this can advance the formation of abscesses.

If you’re experiencing symptoms associated with tooth decay, it’s time to reach out to your dental care provider. Dental cavities are one of the most frequently seen oral health concerns in the world, but they’re also imminently treatable if you catch them early enough. Call for an appointment today.


Further Reading

woman sneezing and sitting in a field of weeds

Got Allergies? Tell Your Dentist

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America notes that as many as 50 million Americans are affected by allergies annually. If you are one of these people who have allergies, you may not think to tell your dentist. But it’s important to let them know, as some allergens can affect your dental health. Here’s what you need to know about sharing your allergies with your dentist.

Read More »
man placing a nightguard before bed

How to Determine the Best Mouthguard for You

As a dental patient, you may be wondering how to determine the best mouthguard for you. There are several factors to consider when making this decision, and we will explore them in this blog post. By the end of this post, you should have a better understanding of what to look for in a mouthguard and how to find one that suits your needs. Thanks for reading!

Read More »
sad cartoon of a decayed and damaged tooth

5 Habits That are Damaging Your Teeth

We all know that we should brush our teeth twice a day and floss at least once, but there are other habits we may not realize are harming our teeth. These habits are sometimes known as dental parafunction. In this blog, we will define dental parafunction and discuss 5 parafunctional habits that could be damaging your teeth without you even realizing it.

Read More »