Tooth Decay

The Causes of Cavities

Why does tooth decay, or “a cavity,” happen?

Normal oral bacteria form colonies on the teeth between brushings called “plaque.” This plaque is an ecosystem of bacteria that feed on sugar passing through the mouth (that’s right… soda, cookies, white bread, etc). When the bacteria digest this sugar, they produce acid which demineralizes the tooth and causes a cavity.

Cavities can worsen very quickly, but most of the time it take months or years to develop. Symptoms may include noticable spots on the teeth, bad breath, or loose fillings. Let us know if you have tooth pain or sensitivity to heat or cold.

When caught early, small “incipient” cavities may be reversed with fluoride. If the cavity has extended beyond the enamel to the underlying tooth structure called “dentin,” a filling will be needed. If the cavity is large enough, a crown may be needed to prevent fracture of the remaining weakened tooth structure.