How Cavities Work

Dental cavities, also known as caries, have affected patients for years. This stretches back even the earliest human ancestors. A cavity rate of 48% has been shown to affect the inhabitants of Warwickshire, England.  Cavities especially affect patients that have a diet consisting of highly processed, sugary foods. This condition continues to affect patients to the present day, even with the advent of fluoride in dental care.

Dental cavities are caused by infections resulting from a combination of carbohydrate-containing foods and bacteria inhabiting our mouths.  The bacteria can be located in a film that continuously forms around teeth. This is known as plaque. Although there are various types of bacteria located in our mouths, only a small amount are associated with cavities.  These include Streptococcus mutans, Lactobacillus casei, acidophilus, and Actinomyces naeslundii.

The aforementioned bacteria can consume carbohydrates and produce acid. This causes the tooth surface PH to drop. When the PH drops, which can occur when eating sugary foods, the acid will dissolve the tooth enamel. These acid attacks can lead to increased tooth exposure and risk of decay.

Cavities can hurt teeth through the pits and fissures, which are grooves located on the biting surfaces of back teeth. These areas of enamel contain recesses that trap food and plaque, allowing cavities to form. The cavity may initially affect the teeth in a small way, but the problem can continue to spread and affect the dentin underneath the surface enamel.

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