Tooth Decay and Cavities

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is a disease that damages and breaks down the layers of your teeth.  When you eat and drink, bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars that are found in these foods and drinks.  The bacteria create acids that break down the enamel.

What are cavities and what causes them?

A cavity is a hole in your tooth that forms from tooth decay.

When tooth decay gets through enamel, a cavity can form.  Once the cavity forms in your enamel, it can continue to spread deeper into the layers of your tooth.

If the cavity gets to the pulp of your tooth, bacteria from your mouth can infect the nerves in your tooth.  This can be very painful.  An abscess, or pus-filled sac, can form and even become a serious, life-threatening infection if it is not treated


Who gets Cavities?

Anybody can get dental decay, but you may be increasing your risk if you:

  • often sip and snack on foods and drinks high in sugars, like sodas, sports drinks, and even juice
  • drink bottled water or other water without fluoride
  • have dry mouth (do not make enough saliva) often because you take certain medications
  • have weak enamel because of your family history or a childhood illness
  • don’t brush twice daily and clean between your teeth once a day
  • don’t visit your dentist regularly

A cavity that is not treated can lead to pain, loss of teeth, and even loss of confidence.  If you have tooth pain, you might not be able to get through your daily routine.  You also may not be able to eat or sleep properly and could miss days of work or school.

Do you have a cavity?

Tooth decay can get worse quickly, but it often takes months or years for a cavity to develop.  Signs of having a cavity can include:

  • a white spot on your tooth that does not go away after brushing
  • loose fillings or crowns
  • sensitivity to heat or cold
  • tooth pain

You may notice one or more of these signs.  Or you may not notice any signs at all.  The best way to tell if you have a cavity is to visit your dentist for regular appointments.

How are cavities treated?

What needs to be done to treat your cavity will depend on how far inside your tooth the decay has spread.  Cavities will require some type of filling.  This means that the dentist will fill the hole in your tooth with a material that will act as part of your enamel and protect it from any more damage.

  • If your cavity is very large, a filling may not be enough.  Your tooth may need to have a crown, an inlay or an onlay placed on it.
  • If the nerves of your tooth are infected, you may need a root canal treatment.
  • If your tooth is badly damaged from a cavity, then it may have to be removed.

Dr. Mike and Dr. Niki Kasper will talk with you about your options and the best way to get your mouth healthy again.

*The above content is from the American Dental Association

Request An Appointment

Give the skilled team at Treasured Smiles Adult and Cosmetic Dentistry a call at (815)426-0016 and make an appointment for you or your family member. We have been helping our Frankfort, Mokena, and New Lenox, IL, neighbors maintain or regain excellent oral health for many years now. We look forward to helping you get the beautiful, healthy smile you deserve.