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What are Cavities and How Do They Form?

Diagram of a tooth with a cavity caused by tooth decay used by Anchorage dentist at Spalding Dental.Cavities are one of the most dental issues. While frequently associated with children, they can affect anyone, from children to seniors. At Spalding Dental, we can provide you with the treatment you need for a cavity to restore your oral health and prevent more serious issues from developing. We can also help you to understand exactly what cavities are and how you get them so that you can prevent them from developing in the first place.

What’s in Your Mouth?

To understand how you get a cavity in the first place, it is important to know exactly what is in your mouth. These are just a few of the elements that exist in your mouth.
•  Saliva. Saliva keeps your whole mouth, including your teeth moist. This fluid performs many essential tasks. It helps to break down the foods you eat for proper digestion. It washes away food particles and bacteria in your mouth. It also helps to neutralize acids.
•  Plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on the surfaces of your teeth. It grows when bacteria stick to your teeth and begin multiplying. It helps to collect new bacteria and grows thicker over time.
•  Bacteria. There are several types of bacteria found in the mouth. Some are good bacteria that help to destroy bad bacteria. There are also strains of bad bacteria. Streptococcus mutans is the specific strain of bacteria most responsible for cavities. This type sticks easily to your teeth and produces harmful acids.

How a Cavity Forms

A cavity is a small pit that forms in your tooth. It is the result of tooth decay. They are commonly thought to be the result of too much sugar. Sugar is not the direct cause of cavities. Instead, the sugars feed the bacteria in your mouth, which then produce harmful acids. These acids, when left on the surfaces of your teeth for too long, begin to erode your protective tooth enamel. This causes weak spots in your teeth or decay. Decay can be reversed, however, if the decay goes untreated long enough, a cavity forms. This is irreversible damage and requires treatment.

Types of Cavities

There are a few different types of cavities that can form. The three most common types of cavities are:
•  Root cavities. This is a cavity that forms on the root surface of your tooth. They are more common in adults who are more likely to have the root surfaces of their teeth more exposed.
•  Pit and fissure cavities. These are commonly found on the chewing surfaces of back molars. In particular, they form in the crevices of the teeth, which can be more difficult to clean thoroughly. Small pit and fissure cavities may be treatable with a filling, but larger ones may require an inlay, onlay, or a crown.
•  Smooth surface cavities. A smooth surface cavity forms on the flat surfaces of your teeth. These cavities are slow-growing and easily treatable.

Preventing Cavities

Good oral hygiene is essential for the prevention of cavities. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day. You should have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined twice a year. We can also help you to further prevent cavities with fluoride treatment and sealants.

Cavities may be common, but they are both treatable and preventable. For more information, and to schedule an appointment, call Spalding Dental today at (907) 276-7366.
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Spalding Dental's accepts Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, United Concordia Dental, Delta Dental, Aetna, Moba Health, Cigna, Tricare and Medicaid insurance providers

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