Cavity formation can take some time. The protective outer layer of your teeth or enamel starts to break down when acidity levels in the mouth rise.
Increased acidity of the mouth occurs through consumption of carbohydrates, which when left on or around the teeth, is consumed by infectious bacteria which secrete their by-products (bacterial waste). The bacterial waste can raise the acidity level and increase the chance of cavities forming on the teeth. Good home care is important to rid the teeth of food so this process cannot begin.
Prevention of cavities starts with brushing three times a day for a minimum of two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day. If a person is at high risk for cavities, a higher concentration of fluoride toothpaste or an added daily fluoride rinse is a good idea.
As well, many medications which people take have a side effect such as dry mouth, which raises their chance of developing cavities, thus homecare is vital for prevention.
If your dentist has told you that you have a cavity, it is important you attend to it. In the early stages, a cavity stays within the enamel; but once it travels to the underlying dentin, it can spread rapidly. Once the cavity goes through the dentin and into the pulp, it can cause infection, inflammation, and discomfort. When the pulp becomes inflamed and infected, many times it will require a root canal (removal of the pulp and nerve of the tooth). Catching a cavity in the early stages is the key.
In order to treat a cavity, the dentist will remove the soft area (cavity) of the tooth and replace it with a filling. The filling will take the space where the cavity was and protect the inner portions of the tooth, just as the enamel once did. It is important to keep the area around the filling as clean as possible to prevent new cavities from forming.
Brush, floss and rinse for oral health!