What is a Cavity (Dental Caries)

Long story short

A cavity is decay in your tooth that can lead to weakened tooth structure and infection.

That’s it thanks for stopping by.

Why are you still here? Oh you must really want to know about cavities (caries for those who hang out with dentists and hygienists).

What causes cavities?

Bacteria poo. When a living organism consumes something it generally has a byproduct it produces. Plants produce oxygen after consuming carbon dioxide, animals produce you know what and the bacteria in your mouth produce acid. When left on your teeth this acid will eat away at the enamel and cause an area of decay.

How do I prevent bacteria potty breaks in my mouth?

Well you can’t stop them entirely but you can limit the exposure and damage they do.

  • Don’t feed them what they like. Bacteria love sugar (you may be wondering if your kids are bacteria). This is the reason your dental professionals sound like kill joys recommending to limit the amount of candy and sugary drinks. The more sugar you consume the more your mouth looks like beach front property to bacteria and they all want to visit. Along with sugar carbohydrates in general help feed bacteria.
  • Clean up the mess. Similar to having a 3 year old son, as much as you try the bathroom still gets a little messy. You can’t completely eliminate food for bacteria to thrive on, so you have to clean up their mess too. Of course this comes in the form of brushing and flossing. The more frequently you can do it the better because it limits the amount of time the acid is sitting on your teeth
  • Make your teeth stronger. When the acid starts eating away at your teeth it is called demineralization. You can make your teeth stronger with fluoride. Fluoride helps your teeth to remineralize, reversing the tiny “pits” that turn into cavities. Think of fluoride as Hans and Franz for your teeth. Fluoride helps your teeth in two ways, topically (in your toothpaste and at the dental office) and systemically in small amount (tap water).

What happens if I didn’t listen to that last section

If you don’t listen you will be reprimanded by your hygienist every 6 months for not flossing. Also that decay will begin to make your teeth weaker and weaker and potentially lead to it breaking. If decay gets too deep and close to the nerve it starts to really hurt. Once it reaches the middle of your tooth you risk infection called an abscess.

That said it is much easier to spend about 2 minutes twice a day to keep that bacteria poo off of your teeth. Plus don’t create a banquet to invite them to by eating\drinking sugar all day. Keeping your 6 month visits to the dentist is a great way to make sure they are super clean as well as detect things while they are small and can be fixed with smaller procedures.