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What is a cavity, exactly, and how does it form? If you know the answers to these questions, you will be better able to avoid cavities in your own smile.

What Is a Cavity?: A cavity is a hole in your tooth enamel. If the hole is deep enough, it exposes the inner part of your tooth, wherein lies the nerve endings and soft tissues. This can lead to discomfort, tooth decay, or infection. If left untreated, a large cavity can even lead to tooth failure, which can require root canal therapy or tooth extraction.

What Causes Cavities?: A cavity can form by a tooth becoming cracked or chipped, but primarily, cavities occur due to acid erosion. This comes as a surprise to some, as they associate sugar intake with cavity formation. So which is it, acid or sugar? The answer is actually both.

How a Cavity Forms: There are bacteria that live in your mouth, which coalesce into a sticky film called plaque. These living bacteria feed on sugars from leftover food particles in your mouth. They create an acidic byproduct, which coats the teeth and begins to erode the enamel, eventually forming a cavity. Acids from foods can erode the tooth enamel directly, as well.

It may be wise to limit both your sugars and acids, and to clean your mouth thoroughly on days when you decide to indulge.

For more information, call Frandsen Dental in Orem, Utah, at 801-224-7900. Our dentists and our team are happy to help you!