What is a cavity?

 Tooth Structure

Tooth Structure

The most common dental problem experienced by patients is a cavity.  So what exactly is a cavity?  In short, it is a hole in the outer enamel of your tooth.  It occurs when bacteria, usually plaque, is on your tooth for a long enough period of time so that it reacts with sugar in the foods you eat to produce acids that cause damage to the tooth's enamel.  This is why brushing and flossing are so important - they remove that plaque and other harmful bacteria before they get a chance to do damage to the enamel on our teeth.  If damage is done, the space that remains after the decay is removed is called the cavity.  

If a cavity is left untreated, the plaque will continue to attack and extend deeper into the tooth, into areas that contain sensitive nerve fibers, resulting in pain and increased sensitivity.  If the cavity gets too large, the root of the tooth can also be damaged.  

What is a filling?  It is material that fills the hole, or cavity, to block further damage from being done.  A filling is a simple repair that involves placing an amalgam or composite material in the cavity and restoring the tooth's original contours. Thereafter the tooth should feel comfortable and back to normal.

 Teeth before (left) and after (right) cavity repair with composite fillings

Teeth before (left) and after (right) cavity repair with composite fillings

In addition to regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, checkups and cleanings twice a year help prevent cavities by minimizing plaque and bacteria.  Please contact our office to schedule an appointment to help maintain your oral health.