Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Dreaded Cavity

By Dr. Scott Thompson, DDS, Winning With Smiles

A cavity, very simply is a hole. The body “cavity” of the Thanksgiving turkey is what you fill with stuffing. A cavity in a tooth is a hole. It is made by the bacteria of the contagious disease “caries.“
 In order to have a dental cavity we need four ingredients. A tooth, the right bacteria, food for the bacteria (simple carbohydrate) and some time for the bacteria to make the hole. The variety of bacteria responsible for caries thrive on simple carbohydrate (sugars and cooked starches) and grow to form a complex biofilm of 600+ different species of bacteria. This takes time, 24 hours.  (Note: If you clean those bacteria off your teeth, your teeth are safe for 24 hours)  That biofilm then generates acids that can dissolve calcium out of the teeth, weakening the tooth structure and eventually making the hole. This takes time too, months.
 During this process the affected area slowly turns chalky white as the enamel softens. As the white lesion progresses, it gets porous enough that stain from food or bacteria begins to penetrate and the white lesion darkens to brown.
Finally, the structure gets soft enough that pieces chip out and parts dissolve away leaving the hole. Note also, before the enamel collapses the bacteria and acids have penetrated to the softer inner portion of the tooth where the cavity grows faster. When the enamel finally collapses, we find the cavity inside the tooth is much larger than the hole in the .....enamel. Picture if you will an inverted mushroom with the narrow stem as the hole in the enamel and the large cap of the mushroom is the larger hole inside the tooth.
 Cavities take time to develop though the collapse of the enamel may seem like an overnight event. Important; in the early stages of the disease, when calcium is being lost, but the integrity of the enamel still exists, the decay process can be stopped and even reversed. We would love to show you how.  Also remember, cavities start on the outside of your teeth. Cleaning a cavity and filling it can stop the cavity from creating an abscess. However, filling the cavity does nothing to stop the disease from creating another cavity in a new place. Stopping the disease can only be done by you at home. And filling the cavity will never restore the lost integrity and strength of the tooth.
Lets prevent holes in your teeth!

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