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Victor R. Siegel, DDS

How Do Cavities Form and What Can I Do About It?

By Victor Siegel on June 04, 2015

A woman undergoing a dental examDr. Victor R. Siegel has helped countless patients in and around Rockville achieve healthier and more beautiful smiles. Many times this is achieved through advanced general dentistry procedures that stress total wellness. This includes some basic treatments to keep your smile its healthiest. With that in mind, let's consider how cavities form and what can be done to treat and prevent them.

Cavities 101: Going Over the Basics

Let's consider the basics of tooth decay and cavity formation first.

Cavities are caused by oral bacteria that feed on food particles located on and between your teeth. When the oral bacteria does this, it produces and acidic substance that eats into the enamel of the tooth (the topmost layer). Left untreated, the decay can reach into the dentin layer of a tooth and into the pulp chamber, leading to an infection of the tooth and an abscess.

About Oral Bacteria and What It Does

This oral bacteria is natural and commonly occurs in the mouth. In addition to causing tooth decay, the oral bacteria also causes bad breath and can cause gum disease.

Plaque, Tartar, and Why They Are Bad for Your Teeth

Plaque and tartar are two substances that many people misunderstand.

Plaque is a biofilm that oral bacteria creates on the tooth surface. This sticky substance allows the bacteria to remain on a tooth and feed on food particles, increasing that damage done to the teeth.

Tartar (aka dental calculus) is a hardened form of plaque, which is an ideal surface for bacteria to reside and thrive on.

It's important that plaque and tartar not be present on or around teeth in order to ensure the best dental health possible.

What Happens When Cavities Go Untreated

If cavities go untreated and the decay reaches the pulp chamber, a tooth is infected. This results in serious pain and the potential spread of the infection into the jawbone and other structures of the mouth. This should be avoided at all costs if possible, but if a tooth is infected, it will need to undergo a root canal or be extracted.

In addition to the infection, a seriously decayed tooth will be weaker, meaning that it is more likely to cause patients pain as they bite and chew, and the tooth may potentially chip, crack, or break.

Dental Restorations for Treating Tooth Decay

To rebuild the decayed tooth structure, dental restorations are used. These include:

  • Fillings
  • Inlays
  • Onlays
  • Crowns

The ideal dental restoration for your needs can be discussed during the consultation process.

Tips for Preventing Cavities and Advanced Tooth Decay

To prevent cavities and advanced tooth decay from occurring, it's important that you consider the following basic tips:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Floss your teeth at least once a night
  • Drink water to stay hydrated and remove food particles from the mouth
  • Avoid snacking on sugary foods (oral bacteria loves carbs)
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups

Learn More About Treating Cavities and Prevention Tips

If you would like to learn more about tooth decay and how it can treated and prevented, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Dr. Siegel and the entire team at the practice looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you achieve all of your goals with regard to dental health and total wellness.

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Victor R. Siegel, DDS

16815 Crabbs Branch Way
Rockville, MD 20855

Open Today 7:00am - 4:00pm

More Info Directions (301) 963-4330