If your dentist in Richardson TX has told you that you have a cavity, you are not alone. Roughly 78 percent of Americans have had at least one cavity before the age of 17. However, while tooth decay is quite common, many do not know how a cavity actually forms. Understanding the development of dental caries is a critical component to help combat tooth decay. As your family dentist near Plano TX, Breckinridge Dental & Orthodontics explains the process of tooth decay.
How Does a Cavity Develop?
The formation of a cavity is a slow process that gradually progresses overtime. Teeth contain a hard outer layer known as enamel, which is composed of mineral salts and calcium. While mineral salts are found naturally in saliva, they also make the teeth more prone to acidic damage.
Throughout the day, plaque begins to form on the teeth, which is why it is essential to brush and floss daily to remove the accumulation. However, if plaque is not removed, it begins to eat away at enamel. The demineralization of the enamel is due to acid that forms when plaque is exposed to sugars from foods and drinks we consume. The acid causes enamel to become porous, allowing tiny holes to develop. Over time, these small holes will increase in size to finally form one large hole. Once this occurs, a cavity has formed.
During the early stage of decay, a small white spot will appear on a tooth, which indicates where minerals have been lost. At this point, your family dentist at Breckinridge Dental & Orthodontics can stop the progression of decay with preventive treatments, such as fluoride or dental sealants. However, if the right intervention is not used, the small white spot will eventually continue to weaken, allowing severe decay to develop.
Symptoms of a Potential Cavity
It is estimated approximately 92 percent of adults have a cavity develop on their permanent teeth, with another 26 percent of adults living with untreated tooth decay. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 19 percent of children 2 to 19 years of age have untreated cavities. The reason for the high number of untreated dental caries in both adults and children is largely to due poor oral hygiene and not maintaining regular visits to the dentist. Regular dental checkups provide early diagnosis and intervention for cavity treatment. However, even without the aid of a dentist, there are symptoms of a potential cavity.
During early cavity development, dental caries often does not produce symptoms. But, as time progresses, the tooth will become sensitive to temperature changes and sweet foods. If any symptoms are present, it is essential to contact your dentist for treatment.
Your Dentist in Richardson TX
At Breckinridge Dental & Orthodontics, we want to protect your smile from tooth decay. We provide preventive treatments to stop cavities before they start. With regular checkups and cleanings, we perform the necessary interventions to protect the enamel while also detecting cavities during the early stages. With early cavity detection, we will stop the damage to protect the health and integrity of the tooth.