Bellingham Dentist

What Causes Cavities and How To Know When You Have Them

Cavities and Causes

A cavity is a damage of the structure of the tooth caused by acids that are created when plaque bacteria break down sugar in your mouth. A hole is created on the tooth surface which means there is a loss of minerals from the enamel layer. Left untreated, the plaque acids can also eat away at the next layer of the tooth which is the dentin. Nerves are now exposed and you can feel pain when eating or drinking.

Cavities and the decay they cause can be brought about by many factors. The most significant ones are sugary, sticky foods and beverages. The more sugar consumed, the more acid is produced, leading to decay. Sugar combines with plaque to weaken the enamel leaving you vulnerable to tooth decay.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Other factors to consider is poor oral hygiene which contributes to buildup of plaque. Plaque is caused when bacteria, acid, food particles, and saliva all combine in your mouth. Plaque contains acid that attacks the enamel of your teeth and cause cavities. To be neglectful of oral hygiene may mean one doesn’t brush and floss regularly and properly, and because one may not also keep regular dental visits and have professional cleaning done from time to time, oral hygiene also suffers.

Another cause of cavities is dry mouth. It’s a condition when you have very little saliva in your mouth. When the mouth is not sufficiently hydrated, it becomes an environment where bacteria thrives more and plaque builds up more quickly.

Medical problems can also contribute to cavity-formation. Conditions like reflux disease and bulimia increase the risk of cavities as teeth are repeatedly exposed to acid from frequent reflux or vomiting. Diabetes is a common chronic condition that increases the likelihood of gum infections that in turn make teeth susceptible to tooth decay. In addition, some types of cancer treatment that expose the head and neck to radiation can promote a tooth cavity by changing the makeup of the saliva to promote increased bacterial growth.

Cavity Symptoms

You can tell you may have a cavity if you notice some particular symptoms. As tooth decay progresses, cavity symptoms start to appear. The earlier symptoms are identified, the quicker and easier the cavity treatment will be. Do note the following symptoms for easy and prompt identification of a cavity.

Firstly, you feel pain; you may feel pressure, and certain sensitivity with pain and discomfort when biting down; another are pits – noticeable holes or in the affected tooth, yet sometimes only a dental x-ray can reveal it. Then, there’s pus, a sign of infection.


Dental Checkup in Bellingham

If you think you might have a cavity, make an appointment at Tetrick Family Dentistry so our team can assist with treatment. Contact our office in Bellingham if you have any questions.