The Progression of a Cavity

Dental cavities are a relatively common oral health problem that affects nearly every individual at some point in their lives. What determines the long-term outlook of your oral health is how you respond to your cavity. If you catch the problem quickly, visit your dentist, and adjust your cleaning routine, you may not experience cavities in the future. If you try to ignore the problem and wait for it to go away, the cavity will get worse, eventually compounding your problems. Here’ how a dental cavity progresses over time, and the consequences that come with it.

Cavities Form Due to Bacterial Activity on Teeth Surfaces

Cavities are holes that form in your teeth. Those holes are caused by the corrosive activity of bacteria on the surface. When bacteria build up over time on the surfaces of your teeth, they produce acid that wears down your enamel. Eventually, this top layer of tooth gives way, forming the cavity. That’s why it’s so important to brush your teeth and floss every day. You are mechanically removing the bacteria from your teeth before they have time to aggregate and damage your enamel.

Once a Cavity Starts, It Continues to Grow in Depth

The acid produced by bacteria is the result of metabolic activity. That means that as the bacteria grow, they produce more acid. Over time, your cavity will get larger. The size may grow in terms of depth or in terms of width, or both. As the bacteria penetrate deeper inside your tooth, they push past the layer of enamel and into your dentin and tooth pulp. These tissues are susceptible to infection, and can cause you to need more serious restorative treatment to save your tooth.

If Left Unchecked, Cavities Can Cause Root Canal Infections and Tooth Loss

As the bacteria spreads inside your tooth, it may eventually reach your root canals. These are the portions of the tooth that carry blood vessels and nutrients to and from the tooth. They connect the tooth, biologically, to the rest of your oral tissues. A bacterial infection in this area can spread to these other tissues and cause additional adverse health effects. Furthermore, as a cavity grows in size, it may compromise your tooth’s structure so much that your tooth cannot be salvaged. This can ultimately lead to tooth loss.

Treat Your Cavity at Allen and Neumann Family Dentistry

Cavities require professional care in a timely manner. The faster you treat an infection in your tooth, the better the outcome will be. Receiving a dental filling early on can repair your tooth’s structure and allow you to move forward. At Allen and Neumann Family Dentistry, you can receive a lifelike dental filling that repairs the damage done by cavities. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Allen or Dr. Neumann, call our dental office in Pella, IA, today at (641) 628-1121.