Tooth Decay
Edmonds, WA


Translucent  model of teeth showing red roots of a decaying tooth at Perrinville Family Dentistry in Edmonds, WA 98026-5524Your teeth are incredibly strong. Despite their strength, however, they can still develop cavities from tooth decay. Cavities are one of the most common dental issues. While frequently associated with children, cavities can affect anyone of any age. When they develop, they need treatment right away. At Perrinville Family Dentistry, we can provide you with the treatment you need to combat tooth decay and help you to prevent new cavities from developing.

The Substances in Your Mouth


There are several substances in your mouth. To understand how you get cavities, and how to prevent tooth decay, it is important that you know what these substances are.
•  Plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance that accumulates on your teeth. It forms when bacteria stick to your teeth and begin to multiply. This substance is acidic in nature.
•  Bacteria. There are many types of bacteria in your mouth, both good and bad. The good bacteria help to keep your mouth healthy. The bad bacteria, particularly Streptococcus mutans, produce acids that erode your tooth enamel.
•  Saliva. Saliva is a liquid in your mouth that helps to keep it moist. It also plays many other important roles as well. Saliva helps to wash away debris from your mouth, kill bacteria, and break down food for digestion. It also helps to neutralize acids and keep your mouth at a healthy pH.


What Exactly is a Cavity?


A cavity is a pit that forms on the surface of a tooth. It develops as a result of untreated decay. Tooth decay occurs when the acids produced by plaque and bacteria linger too long on your teeth. These acids erode your enamel, or eat away at it, leaving a weak spot. Over time, the decay can worsen and the cavity forms.

Types of Cavities


There are several types of cavities that can develop. Common cavities include:
•  Pit and fissure cavities. A pit and fissure cavity is one that forms on the chewing surface of a molar, more specifically in the crevice of the molar.
•  Root cavities. A root cavity forms on the root surface. This type of cavity is more common in adults, particularly those who have experienced gum recession and have more of their tooth surface exposed.
•  Smooth surface cavities. A smooth surface cavity forms on the flat surface of a cavity. It is a slow-growing cavity that is generally easy to treat.


Risk Factors for Cavities


There are many factors that can increase your risk of developing cavities. Risk factors include:
•  Poor oral hygiene.
•  Tobacco use.
•  Dry mouth.
•  A diet high in sugars or carbohydrates.
•  Diabetes.
•  Your age.


Treating Cavities


Cavities need to be treated. Without treatment, they only continue to grow larger, compromising the structure of the tooth and its health. One of the most common treatments for cavities is a filling. This treatment uses amalgam or composite resin to fill in the cavity, preventing further damage and tooth decay, and restoring your oral health.

For larger cavities, particularly those on the chewing surfaces of your molars, you may require an inlay or onlay. These are indirect fillings that are made in a lab using an impression of your tooth. For more significant cavities, a dental crown may be needed. This is a cap that encases the entire tooth preventing more damage and decay, protecting the tooth from infection.

Cavity Prevention


Cavities may be treatable, but they are also preventable too. It is important that you take care of your mouth properly to prevent cavities and tooth decay from developing in the first place. Cavity and tooth decay prevention starts at home with daily brushing and flossing. Professional dental exams are necessary as well.

For those prone to cavities, we can help to provide additional protection with sealants and fluoride treatments. It is also important that you maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet. Cavities are common, but tooth decay is treatable as well as preventable. If you have any questions or concerns, or want to schedule an appointment, contact Perrinville Family Dentistry today at (425) 616-0620.
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