Almost all of us can probably remember our parents telling us again and again to be sure to brush our teeth every day or else we’d get cavities. It was just part of the daily routine. But what exactly are cavities and how do they form?
There are many different types of bacteria inside of our mouths. Most are harmless, and some are even beneficial. Problems arise when harmful bacteria start metabolizing sugars and starches from the things you eat and drink, especially sweet, starchy foods and sugary beverages. The byproduct of this metabolic process is acid that causes the enamel of the teeth to lose minerals and weaken.
Bacteria multiple and produce more acid that eats deeper into the enamel until it reaches the surface of the tooth. Once the enamel is gone, decay begins from inside the tooth. A white spot on the surface is a sign of this. So, a cavity is the end result of what is basically a bacterial infection on a tooth. The bacterium most often responsible for this is called Streptococcus mutans.
When bacteria attach to your teeth, they form plaque. Plaque is hard organic material that’s actually bacteria clumped together along with yeasts, viruses, food particles, white blood cells, and other microorganisms. The bacteria continue to multiply and the plaque gets thicker and harder.
If tooth decay goes on for too long, a dental procedure to extract the rotten tooth, or teeth, will be necessary. This is why good oral health is so important. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash are essential for keeping plaque from building up on your teeth. And having regular checkups with your dentist will help keep your teeth and gums healthy, too.
Your smile is important to the specialists here at Southfield Family Dental Center. Whether you’re coming in for a procedure or just a regular six-month cleaning, we promise to provide the best dental care possible. Contact us today to request an appointment!