What Causes Cavities to Form? Our Guelph Dentist Has The Facts.
Here’s a hint: sugar’s not all to blame.
It’s no secret that the frequent consumption of sugary-sweet foods and beverages is a leading contributor to tooth decay and the formation of cavities. But have you ever won-dered about why this is?
Our Guelph dentist is here to explain just why sugar is such a harmful substance when it comes to our oral health.
Contrary to popular belief, it actually isn’t the sugar itself that’s directly causing tooth decay!
The direct cause of all this havoc is a certain type of bacteria present in our mouths that feed off of these sugars - and it goes by the name “streptococcus mutans”. (Yes, it does sound like it has an evil agenda, doesn’t it!)
But don’t worry - our mouths need not fall victim to the s. mutans. We just need to en-sure we’re practicing proper daily oral hygiene habits every day, including both dental and periodontal care, along with trying our best to limit the amount of sweets we consume.
How does the process of tooth decay begin?
Whenever your teeth are exposed to sugars, the strep mutans bacteria uses these sug-ars as fuel to produce harmful bacterial acids that pose a threat to the tooth enamel (the surface layer of the teeth that serves to protect all the layers beneath it).
And despite the tooth enamel being the hardest material in the body (even harder than bone!), it isn’t all that indestructible when it’s faced with these acids regularly over time.
The journey of tooth enamel destruction explained
Looking at the structure and composition of a tooth, we’ll see that it is composed of es-sential minerals – primarily hydroxyapatite; a crystalline calcium phosphate mineral. And every time the bacterial acids attack the tooth, some of these valuable minerals are re-moved from the tooth’s composition - thus weakening it bit by bit with every instance of exposure to sugar.
This process os destruction is referred to as “demineralization” - but fortunately, so long as there’s an equal or greater amount of “remineralization” in action as well thanks to oral hygiene efforts, the teeth can remain strong and avoid decaying to the point of cav-ity formation - resulting in the need fora dental filling.
What happens if a cavity goes untreated?
Once tooth decay makes its way into the surface enamel layer of the tooth and extends to the secondary dentin layer, a filling is definitely in order. This is because at this point, the decay has no choice but to continue progressing, in which it will eventually reach the final middle layer of the tooth - the root.
The deeper a cavity travels, the more pain the person will experience. This is because the root at the centre contains all of the nerves. If decay does extend past the dentin layer, our Guelph dentist will need to treat the tooth with an endodontic “root canal” pro-cedure in order to avoid extraction - which is far more extensive than a filling.
With that said, the earlier that tooth decay is caught, the better - as larger fillings can ac-tually weaken the tooth as they require more removal of the tooth’s natural structure.
Don’t let the s. mutans win: Look after those teeth every day!
If you’re taking the steps to ensure a healthy smile every day, you shouldn’t need to worry too much about cavities.
An oral health-friendly lifestyle and routine includes eating a balanced diet limited in sugars and fermentable carbohydrates, in addition to brushing twice a day (preferably using a fluoridated toothpaste) for two minutes each session, and also flossing once daily.
In addition to this, when you DO consume sugars, it’s beneficial to swish some water or milk around in your mouth following exposure or in-between bites or sips in order to bring down the level of acidity in the mouth – or, alternatively, chew on a hard piece of cheese!
And lastly, it’s important that you remember to visit our Guelph dentist and hygienist for a check-up and cleaning generally every 6 months or as necessary.
Due for another routine dental visit at our Guelph family den-tal clinic?
Don’t wait - your smile depends on your diligence! Our team provides both dental and periodontal services to ensure your smile is as healthy as can be.
Reach out to our clinic to book your visit today. Our team will be happy to see you and your smile (and your family, too). :)
Dr. Coman Dentistry
85 Norfolk Street, Suite 308
Guelph, ON N1H 4J4