Cavities are holes in the outer layer (enamel) or inner layer (dentin) of the tooth due to decay brought on, usually, by the presence of plaque on your teeth. Plaque is formed from bacteria from food sugars left on the tooth, and the acid from plaque is what damages the enamel and causes a cavity to form. Cavities can be on your tooth’s surface, in between teeth, in and around existing fillings, and along the gum line, and can occur in people of any age. In addition to plaque build-up, your teeth can become susceptible to cavities from grinding your teeth to the point of damaging the enamel, or exposing the dentin due to cracks, chips, or breaks in the tooth.

In early stages, you may not notice you have a cavity…they could only be detected by a professional hygienist or dentist during your regular re-care dental visit…which is THE reason routine check-ups and cleanings are so important to maintain good dental health. In later stages, you may have a sharp tooth ache, indicating the cavity has gotten large or deep. The good news about cavities is that they can be prevented entirely, or at least in great part, by brushing and flossing regularly. Likewise, routine cleanings with your dental hygienist keep your teeth clean of plaque build-up. It’s also helpful to use a fluoride-based toothpaste and rinse every day! An application of dental sealants to the chewing surfaces of your teeth can also help prevent wear and plaque invasion.

Cavities can be repaired in different ways, depending on the extent of the decay. Minimal decay requires the standard composite fillings most people have. If the decay is extensive on the body of the tooth, the tooth might require either an all porcelain crown or an implant supported crown. Likewise, if the decay is so deep as to affect the health of the nerve of your tooth, it might require a full root canal or replacement tooth.