How Do You Get Cavities?

Cavities form across the span of several months or even years. This means that by attending preventative dental check-ups, dentists can catch cavities early before they grow larger. Not only does this reduce the extent of treatment required to fix the tooth, but it will also save you money in the long run.

Here, we talk about some of the causes of cavities and how they develop. Read on to learn more about the process of cavity growth so that you can better understand the professional prevention process.

What Causes Cavity Formation?

Cavities are caused by bacteria accumulation over time. However, refined sugar and frequent snacking can also contribute to the progression of decay. Make sure that your oral health is a priority, as brushing and flossing twice daily can help to stop cavities in the early stages and prevent them from developing faster.

The Early Stages

Cavities form in 5 stages. The first, demineralization of the enamel, is when the tooth is exposed to acids from foods. Demineralization can be reversed through fluoride exposure; the use of fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash or topical fluoride application during your cleaning appointments will help to reverse the damage and strengthen the enamel backup.

If the demineralized tooth is left unchecked, the second stage, enamel decay, will begin. This is essentially when a small hole in the tooth forms. By stage 2, you have a cavity that can be treated with a simple filling.

Stage 3 which is characterized by dentin decay, will take place if the cavity is left untreated. Dentin is the soft tissue beneath the tooth’s enamel. Decaying dentin can cause the tooth to become sensitive to cold or sweets and will slowly become more painful.

It is in the third stage of the decay process that most people notice their cavities due to the associated toothaches. If dentin decay occurs, you will need a filling or possibly a crown to restore the tooth.

Later Cavity Development

The fourth stage, pulp decay, leads to inflammation and gum swelling. You'll be in a lot of pain because the cavity has reached the nerves and blood vessels within the tooth. This stage will have pain that can be spontaneous, throbbing, shooting, or radiating pain that may be intense enough to require pain medication. You will likely need a root canal for treatment and a crown to protect the tooth.

A dental abscess occurs in the fifth stage and will usually require immediate treatment. The cavity reaches the gum and creates a pus-filled pocket beneath the tooth. The pain and swelling will become intolerable and you may need to have the tooth extracted.

Routine dental checkups and tooth cleanings can ensure that any cavities are caught in the early stages. You'll experience less pain and sensitivity this way, and you also won't need to undergo painful or costly dental procedures.

The Major Symptoms of Cavities

If you notice one or more of the following symptoms, it's important to book a dental exam:

  • Tooth sensitivity and soreness
  • Dull or sharp pain
  • Sensitive gums
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Grey, brown, or black spots on the teeth
  • Bad breath

These symptoms will only worsen as the cavity moves into the later developmental stages. Make sure to be proactive about your dental health and book a check-up sooner than later!

Prevent Cavities with a Dental Check Up at Cypress Dental

Now that you know the causes of cavities and how they develop, it's time to speak with a professional about how to prevent them. Our expert dentists and dental hygienists are committed to helping you promote excellent oral hygiene. Schedule an appointment with our office to have your teeth cleaned and receive a dental check-up in Vancouver!