Parents warn their children against eating sugary treats and beverages they believe will result in cavities and a trip to the dentist. The damage cavities inflict on teeth is well known. A pediatric dentist may have to drill, remove dark spots, and fill them to avoid extreme childhood tooth extraction procedures. While parents are keenly aware of maintaining a child’s healthy smile, the specifics of how cavities form remains something of a mystery.
As a dentist Ponte Vedra families rely on, it’s essential to understand the details about tooth decay. We hope this information about cavities and how to prevent them proves useful to your family’s dental health and wellbeing.
How Cavities Form & Stages of Tooth Decay
A cavity is essentially a hard tissue breakdown of the teeth. In dental circles, this process is often referred to as “demineralization” and is the result of aggressive acids found in bacteria acting on teeth. The acids cause pits to form. These holes usually look like dark spots on teeth, and that’s what is commonly identified as a cavity. But some cavities do not immediately manifest as dark lesions and go unnoticed. When cavities are not promptly treated, they can destroy your teeth. The stages of tooth decay can be understood in the following four phases.
- White or brown spots begin to appear on the surface of teeth.
- This decay begins to penetrate the tooth’s protective enamel layer.
- The cavity penetrates the softer inner tissue and starts to destroy the teeth from the inside of the tooth.
- If the cavity is not treated and filled, tooth decay spreads deeper into teeth and gums.
While other parts of the body enjoy regenerative powers, teeth do not. Cavities represent permanent damage that cannot be reversed. Procedures such as fillings can stop the spread of tooth decay and avoid heightened health problems. But once tooth decay manifests on you or your child’s permanent teeth, that blemish to their bright smile remains.
What Families Need To Know About Cavity Prevention
Tooth decay ranks among the world’s leading health problems. Although cavities can form at any age, the issue is especially prevalent among children and teenagers.
The risk of cavities increases when things such as candy, soda, pieces of bread, and fruit, among others, remain in your mouth. They come in contact with otherwise healthy bacteria and saliva. When this occurs, those carbohydrate foods convert into acidic plaque. As the plaque attaches to your teeth, it attacks the protective enamel and starts to form a hole.
Many people do not realize they have a tooth decay issue until it’s too late. However, if you or your child has any of these early warning signs, promptly contact your Ponte Vedra dentist.
- Tooth pain that happens without warning
- Sensitive teeth
- Tooth pain from hot or cold beverages
- Small white discolorations on teeth
- Brown or black spots on teeth
- It hurts when you bite down on food
When left untreated, cavities can result in significant tooth damage and serious health conditions. Pockets of puss form, creating an abscess. Decay can cause tooth loss, the need for extractions, and ongoing pain and discomfort.
The good news is that brushing twice each day with quality toothpaste and flossing — combined with a healthy diet — can help prevent cavities from forming in the first place. It’s also crucial to remove food that may get caught between teeth before acidic plaque can negatively impact teeth.
Contact Ponte Vedra Complete Dentistry If You Experience Symptoms
At Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics in Ponte Vedra, Florida, our staff of dental professionals urges parents to monitor children’s brushing, flossing, and eating habits to avoid cavities from forming. We wish nothing more than for your family to keep your bright smiles intact. However, if you or your child show any telltale signs of early tooth decay, contact our office and schedule an appointment today.