Dental Cavity: 5 Ways Our Teeth Break Down

Tooth decay happens when the tooth structure is damaged by the acid formed by bacteria in our mouths. The hole left behind by the acid is known as a cavity.

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Plaque is the main precipitator for tooth decay. Plaque is a sticky mixture of saliva, normal oral bacteria and the remnants of food particles stuck on the surface of teeth. When plaque forms, the bacteria inside will start to produce acid that attacks the enamel of teeth, causing it to breakdown, and eventually forming holes within.

 

Types of Dental Cavity

  1. Smooth surface – the cavity that occurs on the enamel. The rate of smooth surface decay is the slowest and is easily reversible.
  1. Pit and fissure – develops on chewing surfaces, this cavity is found in the grooves of molars. As it is more difficult to clean these places properly, the rate of decay is usually faster than that of surface cavity.
  1. Root – Root decay usually happens when gums start to recede. It is more common in older adults. It is a serious cavity as it develops on the cementum. Treatment is difficult because the cavity is so deep within the tooth.
  1. Recurrent cavity- Cavity that develops beneath or around existing dental fillings or crowns that are not placed properly or is cracked. Food remnants and bacteria can get in between and wreck havoc.
  1. Baby bottle tooth decay – common in children who are used to falling asleep with a bottle of milk or any other sweet liquid in their mouths. Long term exposure of children’s teeth to sugary liquids provides more opportunity for bacteria to attack. Read more about baby bottle tooth decay here.

 

Symptoms of tooth decay may include:

  1. Halitosis (bad breath due to the toxins released by bacteria)
  2. Toothache
  3. Colored (white, grey, brown, even black) spots on tooth
  4. Cracked or loosened fillings
  5. Tooth that is broken
  6. Sensitive teeth when eating hot or cold foods, or drinking acidic liquid like citrus juice

With more severe tooth decay, abscess (pus filled sacs) may develop in the bone at the base of tooth. Symptoms indicating development of abscesses include fever, dull throbbing pain and swollen glands and/or jaws.

 

Prevention

We can prevent or delay the breaking down of our teeth via proper oral care measures. Here is a 5 step process that should not take more than 10 mins that we recommend;

  1. Floss or irrigate your teeth and rinse upon completion
  2. Brush your teeth with an electronic toothbrush (here’s a list of the top 5 electric toothbrushes we like) and take care of those hidden places with the interdental toothbrush (here’s a list of the interdental toothbrushes we like). Rinse.
  3. Gently massage your gums by brushing your gums in a circular motion.Rinse.
  4. Rinse your toothbrush and brush the inner cheeks in an outward motion (meaning start from inside, and finish where the lips are. Don’t forget the area behind your lips. Rinse.
  5. End by brushing your tongue gently. Rinse and give us a big smile!