How does a cavity form on your tooth?

As a child, you are taught about the importance of brushing and flossing to prevent cavities. You may have also learnt the hard consequences of failing to brush and floss daily, and might have seen your dentist for a filling to conceal a cavity.

In order to understand the causes of cavities, you need to have an understanding of your teeth. Your teeth are covered by a hard mineral substance called enamel. Enamel protects your teeth, but because it is a mineral it can break down when making contact with the sugar and acid in your mouth. This is why dentists recommend that you drink lots of water, as water washes over your teeth and gums to fight acid and the build-up of bacteria.

When enough bacteria builds up in your mouth, it will turn into plaque before hardening into tartar that sticks to the enamel. Without good oral care, the tartar and plaque will eat away at the enamel, creating tiny holes in the hard surface. These holes are known as tooth decay, and over time, it will get larger and eventually become cavities.

When tartar hardens, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist or oral hygienist who will give you a professional scaling and polishing, to remove the tartar and ensure that bacteria will be hindered from sticking to teeth again. Daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and rinsing your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash are all effective preventative measures. However, the best way to ensure that your oral health remains in optimal shape would be through regular (bi-annual) dental visits.

For more information on cavities, or to schedule a professional teeth cleaning, contact a dentist in Cape Town today.

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