What Happens When You Have a Cavity

Posted on: February 27, 2018

CavityA cavity is a cause for concern regardless of its size or location.  Cavities become even more of a threat with each passing day they are allowed to remain in the mouth.  Most people understand cavities tend to form as a result of improper oral hygiene or the consumption of excessive sugar.  However, the average person is not aware of how cavities form and what, exactly, is going on the mouth when these cavities appear.

Important cavity information

How Cavities Form

As time progresses, the acids within the plaque in your mouth eat away at tooth enamel.  This etching process causes the enamel to lose its minerals.  Portions of the enamel turn white, indicating the outer layer of the tooth is beginning to dissolve.

This process gradually forms holes in the tooth’s outermost protective layer.  These holes are referred to as cavities. The dentist will identify signs of tooth decay as soon as it begins. This is why it is prudent to visit with your dentist at least once every six months.

If the dentist catches your tooth decay early, the outer enamel layer might be able to remineralize itself.  The dentist can catalyze this process with a solution like prescription strength fluoride.

A Brief Look at Root Caries

Root surface cavities occur more often in adults than youngsters.  Brushing with excessive force or letting gum disease fester for months/years can cause the gums to gradually recede. Gum recession exposes the roots of the teeth.

This, combined with medications that dry the mouth, are a large part of the reason why so many senior citizens suffer from xerostomia.  This is the medical term for dry mouth.

The Looming Threat of Cavity Expansion

It is possible for cavities to grow.  If your cavities are not treated in a timely manner, the decay will worsen to the point that the tooth is eventually destroyed.  It is also possible for the cavity to expand to the point that an abscess occurs.

Cavities even have the potential to spread from one tooth to the next.  The bottom line is if you have a cavity and that tooth touches one or two teeth, those adjacent teeth will be at risk of the same issue later on. The question is when the cavity will spread to nearby teeth, not if it will spread.

Cavities That Spread all the Way to the Nerve in Your Tooth are a Major Problem

The average person expects to have a filling when a cavity exists.  In most cases, if the decay receives a diagnosis in a timely manner, all that is necessary is a diminutive white restoration.  However, certain cavities are large enough to extend all the way to the tooth’s nerve.

If this occurs, there is a good chance the nerve will abscess and require a root canal and crown.  If the abscess remains in place for an extended period of time, it is possible you will eventually lose the tooth altogether.

Call us at (530) 486-1104 for more information from Thomas Dental Care or to schedule an appointment in our dentist office in Davis.


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