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What is a cavity?

A cavity is a part of your tooth structure that has lost over time all of the hardening minerals in that area, and so the tooth is starting to collapse.

What causes a cavity

Cavities are caused by bacteria in our mouths that feed on carbohydrates and sugars, producing acid as a byproduct. This acid dissolves the hardening minerals in the tooth structure and causes it to collapse over time.

How a dentist checks for cavities

Dentists check for cavities through annual x-rays and a physical examination using probes and a lot of light. Additional tests, such as lasers, refractive lights, dyes, and specialized cameras, may be used if more clarification is needed.

The stages of a cavity

The stages of a cavity are:

  1. Initial defect in the enamel (outer part of the tooth).
  2. Penetration into the dentin (softer, inner part of the tooth).
  3. Infection reaching the center of the tooth where nerves and blood vessels reside, requiring a root canal treatment.
  4. Severe damage to the tooth structure, resulting in tooth extraction.

Can a cavity spread to other teeth?

Although cavities don't directly spread to other teeth, all teeth are affected by bacteria and how well they are cared for. Factors such as flossing, brushing, exposure to carbohydrates, and fluoride use can affect how rapidly cavities develop.

Can a cavity go away?

No, cavities do not go away. They can only be treated by a dentist through fillings, crowns, or other procedures to save the tooth.

How long cavity fillings last

Composite fillings generally last between five to eight years, depending on factors such as size, care, and placement of the filling.

How dental cleanings help to prevent cavities

Dental cleanings don't directly prevent cavities, but they do slow down the accumulation of new cavities by removing harmful bacteria and debris and improving access for fluoride in toothpaste.

What to do if you suspect you have a dental cavity

Contact your dentist as soon as possible for an examination and to discuss treatment options.

If you are in the Oroville, California area and need a dentist, please give us a call at Daniel Appel DDS at 530-533-7545. If you're not in the area, consider looking at local Google reviews to find a dentist with positive feedback and a caring culture.

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