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What is a cavity?

This a frequent question that we get asked. Most people are aware that a cavity is a “hole” in the tooth.

What is not commonly understood is that it is in fact an infectious process.  A cavity, also called tooth decay or caries, is a bacterial infection of the tooth that results in the destruction of tooth structure by acid.  This acid is produced by the bacteria in our mouths when we ingest sugars, which are used by the bacteria as a food source.  A small cavity may cause no pain but a large cavity can result in tooth pain as well as fracture of the tooth as a result of the decayed and softened tooth structure.  Any kind of acidity in the mouth can contribute to cavities as well , whether it is from our diet (acidic foods such as fruit juices, soft drinks etc.) or from stomach acids (acid reflux).

Here are some reasons you may be at risk:

• Frequent snacking
• Sipping sugary drinks (coffee or tea with sugar, soda pop )
• Eating or drinking a high amount of fruit juices or fruit (especially citrus fruit)
• Exposed root surfaces
• Teeth that trap food
• Dry mouth from medications

Our next post will cover simple recommendations to prevent cavities.