Cavity is a word that is often thrown around but few people actually know what exactly a cavity is. Everyone can however agree that it is painful and treatment isn’t exactly the most pleasant process. You might be wondering what exactly a cavity is, how it forms and how it is treated.
What exactly is A Cavity?
A dental cavity is actually considered a disease. It is the most common chronic disease in adolescents and children. Nearly 90-percent of adults aged 20 and over have had at least one cavity in their lifetime.
The simplest and most accurate description of a cavity is a hole in the tooth. You have bacteria in the mouth which you use to break down food. This process produces an acid which unfortunately erodes enamel which is the protective layer of your teeth.
The hole in the tooth then exposes the nerves inside the tooth which is why you feel pain when you have a cavity.
How Cavities Form
There are several events or factors that play together to form a cavity. The process isn’t intimately understood even by dentists but on face value, here is what you need for a cavity to occur;
- Saliva and teeth
- How many times these three come together
Generally speaking the bacteria that you use to break down food mixes with proteins naturally found in food and your saliva. This mixture adheres the tooth as a layer known as plaque.
The bacteria in the plaque 'eats' food just as you do. Anything that goes into your mouth is eaten and digested by the bacteria snugly settled in your teeth. The bacteria prefer foods that digest quickly such as processed foods and sugar.
Just as humans do after eating, the bacteria must excrete. The result here is acid which if concentrated on one area erodes tooth calcium over time.
This process isn’t a problem if the plaque doesn’t stay in place for too long. The tooth has a natural ability to regenerate the lost calcium if given the time to do so. Cavities come about when the plaque stays in place for too long, continues to secrete acid which in turn erodes calcium or more practically drills a hole in your tooth.
Fortunately, cavities are relatively simple and straightforward to treat. This process is commonly referred to as a tooth filling. The dentist drills into the tooth to remove all the decayed and damaged part and fills the hole with silver, amalgam, gold or porcelain.
If the cavity is extensive, you may require a root canal or dental crown.
The best way to protect against cavities is to stay away from sugar and processed foods as much as possible. Also brush at least twice a day especially after meals and before bed. Visit the dentist regularly so any issues can be spotted before they become serious.