How Do Cavities Form?

Smiling dimpled black boy in the dental chair

Cavities are small holes in your teeth caused by tooth decay. If untreated, these holes get bigger, eating away at your enamel and causing problems. Anyone can get cavities, but children, teenagers, and older adults tend to get them more often. Odds are, you’ve had a cavity or two in your lifetime. How do they form? What can you do about them?

How Cavities Form

Tooth decay begins with plaque, a sticky substance that’s a mixture of saliva and food. Plaque is constantly forming on your teeth. It’s removed with regular brushing and flossing. If plaque isn’t removed, it hardens into tartar, which only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove. Tartar and plaque are full of bacteria that produce acids, which eat at your tooth enamel. Over time, these acids create tiny holes of decay. That’s how you end up with a cavity. Tooth decay tends to occur in the back teeth because they’re harder to clean.

Risk Factors for Cavities

Anyone can get cavities, but certain factors increase your risk. If you eat a lot of carbs and sugary foods like soft drinks, ice cream, candy, and so on, you’re more likely to get cavities. People with poor oral hygiene habits are also at an increased risk because they aren’t cleaning plaque from their teeth. Other risk factors include having a dry mouth or not getting enough fluoride.

How Do You Know if You Have a Cavity?

When a cavity is in its early stages, you may not notice. That’s why regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Ali and Dr. Mualla are so important. They will find cavities that are just beginning to form. If a cavity goes untreated, you might feel increased tooth sensitivity, toothaches, and pain when you bite down. Once a cavity starts to form, there’s no going back. You want to seek treatment right away.

Cavity Prevention & Treatment at Leesburg Family Dentistry

You can reduce your risk for cavities with good oral hygiene at home and biannual visits to our Leesburg office. If you do get a cavity, we offer treatments like tooth-colored composite, amalgam, or silver dental fillings. Our goal is to keep your teeth healthy and strong! Please contact us today if you have any questions about cavities or want to schedule an appointment.

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