How Does a Cavity Form in a Tooth?

At some point in their lives, most people may have to deal with a cavity in one of their teeth. However, while they may be common, cavities aren’t always fully understood by those who experience them. Some people may underestimate what the cavity can mean for their oral health long-term, or fail to realize one has formed until it causes significant discomfort. Today, we take a closer look at how a cavity forms in your tooth, the potential implications of it if you leave it untreated, and why it’s important to deal with the cavity in its early stages.

Starting at your tooth’s surface

A tooth cavity isn’t a condition by itself, but rather a symptom of your tooth structure decaying. Tooth decay begins when oral bacteria overwhelm your teeth and produce enough harmful substances to weaken and erode the enamel that forms their surfaces. The problem with tooth decay and the cavities that it forms is that they continue to progress and erode more of your tooth structure the longer they’re left untreated. After getting past your compromised tooth enamel, harmful oral bacteria can then infect your tooth’s main structure. This tooth infection will continue to progress and infect more of your tooth’s structure over time, causing the cavity in the tooth to grow larger and more

When bacteria reach your tooth’s structure

Before tooth decay compromises your tooth enamel and infects its main structure, the process of your tooth enamel eroding may be stopped and reversed with preventive dental care. However, once the bacteria reach your tooth’s main structure, the decay will be significant enough that saving your tooth will require actively removing the infection from the tooth and restoring its compromised structure. If the decay and cavity are still minor, then this may be achieved with a tooth-colored filling. In more severe cases, however, saving the tooth could require more extensive treatment, like root canal therapy.

Dealing with a cavity in its early stage

Because cavities get bigger and tooth decay gets worse over time, it’s best to treat the tooth with an appropriate restoration as soon as possible. By filling a cavity in its early stage, you can stop it from getting larger and preserve more of your tooth’s healthy, natural structure. This also helps you avoid the need for root canal treatment in the future, and lower your risks of potentially having to extract the tooth due to extreme tooth infection.

Learn how to prevent or treat a cavity

A cavity can become a serious concern, but you can successfully protect your smile by preventing or treating one early. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, call Lake Orion Family Dentistry in Lake Orion, MI, today at 248-693-6213.