Cavity Education

What are Cavities?

The term cavity is a fancy dental term for decay. In Latin, the term “cavi” refers to a hole. No matter how you spell it or pronounce it, a cavity is not desirable in any way.

Cavities can happen in all parts of the tooth. From deep within the layers to just a little decay on the exterior, cavities are able to attack many layers of the tooth if left unchecked. The enamel of the tooth, which is the exterior of the tooth can get as easily infected as the dentin (the interior of the tooth).

Tooth decay happens when remnants of food are left on the tooth surfaces and are hijacked by bacteria. The oral bacteria then feed off of the leftovers and converts them to damaging acids that “eat” through the tooth enamel and dentin. Acid, food, saliva, and bacteria all combing to form a precursor to decay called plaque. Plaque adheres snugly to the tooth surface and eventually will break down and destroy the enamel of the tooth. This destruction inevitably results in the holes or cavities that, if not treated, can cause massive infections and tooth loss.

Adult and children alike are capable of getting cavities. As children grow older the natural chemicals already found in the mouth change and increase the chances of cavities to occur. Gums begin to recede as age sets in and may form gum disease if left unchecked for an extended period of time.   As the gums pull away, the roots of the tooth get more exposure to plaque and acidic agents that cause a higher likelihood of a cavity developing.