All About Cavities

[ 0 ] August 6, 2014 |


All About CavitiesSince childhood, boys and girls are taught how to properly brush and floss their teeth. One of the primary reasons that children are told to brush so thoroughly is to avoid the development of cavities, though poor oral hygiene can lead to many other problems as well. The concern over cavity development is justified since over 90% of the population is affected by cavities. These dental health problems can cause uncomfortable symptoms; the pain and discomfort associated with cavities are one of the leading causes of dentist visits. While it’s important to know how to avoid these irritating ailments, it’s also important to understand what they are and how they are caused.

What Are They?
Cavities are holes that form in the outer two layers of teeth. Enamel is the shiny, white, outer surface of the tooth that we typically see. Just below enamel is dentin, which appears slightly more yellow. Both of these layers collaborate as a protective defense for the living part of the tooth, located within. Symptoms are caused when the cavity reaches that living, sensitive part of the tooth. Small cavities often form that are asymptomatic, only becoming noticeable once they grow larger. A dentist will be able to find small cavities and treat them before they become big and painful.

How Are They Created?
Cavities are caused by the buildup of sticky, white, acid plaque. The bacteria in plaque feed off of any food that sits in the mouth, especially carbohydrates, and as they do they release acid. The acid that hits the tooth begins to corrode the layers of the tooth, the enamel and the dentin, creating a small hole. The bacteria then takes shelter inside of the tooth, unable to be scrubbed away by brushing and unaffected by flossing. In their little cave they multiply and continue to produce acid, enlarging the hole and making the cavity bigger. Once a cavity is beginning to form it is hard for at-home dental care to stop its progression, so seeing a professional for a cleaning and inspection is extremely important for keeping a healthy smile.

Why Are Children So Cavity Prone?
It’s a well-known fact that children are more likely to face cavities. When a child is born their teeth are coated in very chalky and porous enamel. The pores in the outer layer make it easier for bacteria to dissolve their way into the tooth than it would be in an adult’s mouth. Over time the enamel will be replaced by denser and shinier mature enamel that provides better protection from plaque, and thus more protection from cavities. It is because of this unique susceptibility that children need to be taught proper oral care practices. Ideally children should brush 2-3 times a day, with a round of flossing before bed. It should also be noted that once adult enamel replaces the child enamel then it can no longer be replaced – when mature enamel is gone it’s gone for good. Teaching children to brush properly while young will help instill good brushing habits to keep enamel present and healthy as they age.


In short, cavities are the formation of holes in the two protective layers of the teeth that eventually result in discomfort or pain. Children are extremely vulnerable to cavities, though they can be present in adults and kids alike. Regular dental checkups are also a crucial part of keeping teeth happy and healthy. Stop by our office for an appointment to keep cavities from affecting your beautiful smile.

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