What is a Cavity?

Three things are essential for a caries, or cavity to form. These are a tooth, bacteria, and sugar. Caries is the professional term for cavity and is never called a “carie”, it is always called caries whether plural or singular. While not all bacteria are bad, there is a certain type of bacteria called streptococcus mutans that thrive on sugars and as a byproduct produce an acid. This acid breaks down the enamel of teeth and eventually causes a hole in the tooth or otherwise known as a cavity.

Personal habits and diet can further exacerbate the condition of a cavity or produce more cavities. Snacking regularly on sugary foods and drinks such as candies and sodas, will cause the mouth to be more acidic, thus causing a more favorable environment for the bacteria to produce cavities. It is better to drink a soda or sugary drink all at the same time or over one meal instead of sipping on sugar all day long. Also, drinking sugary drinks through a straw is a good alternative to bathing all the teeth in the sugar.

As a cavity continues to grow and get bigger, it can reach its way into the pulp, or the inner most part of the tooth where the nerves are located. This penetration of the bacteria into the pulp is what causes a tooth ache.

Prevention of Cavities:

  • Brush your teeth after every meal or at least two times a day for a minimum of two minutes each time.
  • Brush with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Limit sweet foods and drinks
  • Use Xylitol products
  • See the dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and check-ups.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is all natural and can be extracted from plant materials. Xylitol can reduce the risk of tooth decay. Xylitol reduces the growth of the cavity-causing bacteria, or streptococcus mutans. Xylitol is safe and can be conveniently delivered through chewing gum, tablets, toothpaste, mouthwash and even certain candies.

Cavity Treatment:

While it’s best to avoid a cavity altogether, they are fairly simple to treat. The most common way a cavity is fixed is by visiting the dentist. There, the decayed portion of the tooth will be drilled away and replaced with a filling material. Filling materials that are the most commonly used are composite (tooth colored), amalgam (silver colored), porcelain and gold.

Just as you learned at a young age, prevention is the key and goal of a dental professional.

Have a Cavity? Call Rochester dental health Affiliates at 507-282-7905 or schedule a free consultation with our dentist.

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