Sometimes, cavities can seem like a mystery. They’re the most common chronic oral health concern, which means most people will experience one at least once in their lifetimes. Yet, they’re also among the most highly preventable concerns, which means there are definitive (and often easy) ways to prevent them from ever developing. Today, we take a look at how both can be true, and what happens when a tooth develops a cavity that makes it such a serious concerns.
How the cavity develops
The secret to how cavities can be both highly frequent and highly preventable is in how they develop. A cavity describes a small depression in your tooth that grows larger over time, and it’s caused by the erosion, or decay, of your tooth’s enamel and main structure. This begins when oral bacteria, which make up dental plaque, release substances like acids that weaken and damage your tooth enamel. If this damage occurs faster than your tooth enamel can recover, or remineralize, then it will develop a hole (cavity) and become permanently compromised. Not only will the hole remain and grow larger, it will also expose the main tooth structure to infection by oral bacteria, resulting in tooth decay and a larger cavity.
When the cavity gets worse
When a cavity first develops, it may not be obvious or cause significant levels of discomfort. This is one reason why people can experience moderate levels of tooth decay before realizing it or seeking treatment for it. When the decay is allowed to grow more severe, it can threaten more of your tooth’s main structure (called dentin), making the tooth weaker and more susceptible to physical damage from your bite pressure. The infection can also become a much greater risk if it progresses enough to reach the tissues in the center chamber of your tooth. Rather than filling a cavity, treating the infection could require removing the tissues and filling the tooth’s pulp and root canal chamber.
How to fix the damage from a cavity
While cavities can form before you realize it, you can largely prevent them from developing by preventing oral bacteria from compromising your tooth structure. Yet, because this can occur before you realize it, saving your smile may require directly addressing a cavity instead of preventing it. The most appropriate treatment for your cavity and tooth decay will depend on the extent of your tooth’s condition, and may require a simple tooth-colored filling, more involved root canal treatment, or, in severe cases, extracting and replacing the infected tooth.
Learn what to do if a cavity develops
If your tooth develops a cavity, it’s important to know what it could mean for your tooth, and how you can address it most effectively. To learn more, schedule a consultation by calling the Dental Centre of Conroe in Conroe, TX, today at (936) 441-4600. We serve patients from Conroe and all neighboring communities.