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How Do Cavities Start?

Alexandria VA dentist consulting a female patient sitting in dental chair

“You have a cavity.” It’s the phrase we all dread when we visit the dentist. Cavities are certainly a primary threat to a healthy smile. While you may assume cavities are from eating too much candy or forgetting to brush your teeth, there is a more in-depth process that goes on inside your mouth. Understanding exactly how cavities form can help you protect your smile the way it deserves. After all, neglecting your teeth and leaving cavities untreated can lead to tooth loss and threats to your overall health.

To survive, we rely on the food and drinks that we put in our mouths. Unfortunately, our mouths also have oral bacteria that are fighting to survive too. In fact, decay-causing bacteria is waiting to be a scavenger and feed off the sugars left behind on your teeth. The less sugar you eat and the more frequently you brush your teeth, the better chance you’ll have at winning the war against decay.

The Process of Cavity Development

If you had to put the formation of a cavity into a step-by-step process, it would look like this:

  1. Sugars and starches enter your mouth from food and drinks.
  2. Bacteria uses these ingredients to feed and breed, which releases a corrosive acid.
  3. The acids eat away at the enamel (outer layer) of your teeth.
  4. Your body counterattacks by rebuilding the enamel using the minerals of your saliva.
  5. When sugars and starches remain plentiful, the bacteria and acids overpower what your enamel can rebuild.
  6. Persistent acid attacks on a tooth results in the dissolve of enamel and the formation of a tiny hole – called a cavity.
  7. A dentist can intervene and repair the cavity by filling in the hole with a special filling material called composite resin.
  8. If a cavity is left untreated, it can grow. The inner structures of your tooth can become damaged and result in disruptive pain and the need for a root canal or extraction.

Fighting Back on Decay

The good news is that cavity prevention is absolutely possible. Winning the war against cavity-causing oral bacteria should include brushing twice a day, flossing regularly and limiting snacks and sugary drinks between meals. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day to rinse away food particles and encourage saliva production is also beneficial.

Last but not least, don’t neglect your routine dental visits. At these appointments, we can give your teeth a professional cleaning as well as detect cavities at their earliest and most treatable stage. Call Green Dental of Alexandria today to schedule your dental checkup. We promise a safe, comfortable and attentive visit.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Hye Park, Green Dental of Alexandria

Green Dental of Alexandria – Alexandria Dentist
1725 Duke St, Suite GR03
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 549-1725

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I just had my first appointment at Green Dental and I couldn't be happier with their service. I tend to be nervous when going to the dentist, but all of the staff were very welcoming and nice. The exam chair massages your back as you're getting your cleaning and there's a television on the ceiling to distract you from dental work. The cleaning and evaluation was very gentle. Thanks, Green Dental!

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Top shelf dental care. Convenient location via METRO/King Street Station. Patient's dental chair features back massage capability along with TV viewing (CNN). Dr. Hye Park is very smooth. Dental experience beyond compare. I actually enjoy going to the dentist now.

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Once again, even the cleaning was uneventful. Love being able to look outside while I'm in the chair. Dr. Park has the most gentle & tiny hands ! Love this place and the staff.

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