What Are Cavities and How Do They Form?

December 15, 2015 — by Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky
Tags: General Dentistry Tooth Decay Restorative Dentistry

Illustration of a cross-section of a tooth, revealing the nerves and pulpThe last thing anyone wants to hear from his or her dentist is the phrase, “You have cavities.” Aside from the cosmetic threat they pose to the smile, cavities can be painful and lead to numerous oral health problems. The best way to prevent cavities is to brush and floss properly at least twice a day and after every meal, in addition to visiting your local general dentistry practice twice a year for a professional cleaning and thorough oral exam.

In order to avoid cavities, it is also important to understand what they are and how they form. This is why, as part of his commitment to patient education, Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky is always certain to explain to his patients how cavities form during consultations at his Edmonton, AB cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry practice. The more you know about your oral health, the easier it is for you to preserve it.

Whether you have had a cavity in the past, you currently have tooth pain that may indicate a cavity, or you believe your mouth to be in perfect health, it is essential that you visit the dentist’s office at least twice a year. We would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate why our practice is the right practice for you and your family. Please schedule your initial appointment with Dr. Podilsky today.

How Do Cavities Form?

Cavities are holes or crevices that form in teeth. They may seem to appear suddenly, but usually they develop over time. Many people are unaware that they have cavities until they are diagnosed during an oral exam or until they experience tooth pain, by which point they have usually reached an advanced stage and more extensive treatment is necessary. This is why it is important to undergo routine dental exams.

While some people develop cavities due to a genetic predisposition, trauma, or illness, most people develop cavities due to poor oral hygiene. Usually, bacteria build up on the tooth, forming into plaque and eventually into tartar. These harmful substances cause the enamel that protects the tooth to erode. As a result, the underlying layer of the tooth, the dentin, becomes vulnerable to decay.

Once this decay sets in, cavities - clinically known as dental caries - will develop until the damaged portion of the tooth is removed and replaced with a filler substance. At our practice, we use safe, aesthetically pleasing materials such as porcelain and composite resin to restore the tooth. Left untreated, however, the dental pulp that resides inside the tooth’s root canals will eventually become infected, resulting in substantial pain and the eventual death and loss of the tooth.

While it is easiest to treat cavities in their earliest stages, it is never too late to treat a cavity. Root canal therapy can be performed to salvage the tooth even in the later stages of a cavity. Even if extraction is necessary, there are excellent methods of replacing lost teeth, particularly with dental implants.

Learn More about How Cavities Form

To learn more about how cavities form and how they can be treated, please contact the cosmetic, implant, and family dentistry practice of Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky today.