Redding Dentist: What Causes Cavities?

Dr. Parvin Carter

Dental cavities (caries) are holes in the two outer layers of a tooth called the enamel and the dentin. The enamel is the outermost white hard surface and the dentin is the yellow layer just beneath enamel. Both layers serve to protect the inner living tooth tissue called the pulp, where blood vessels and nerves reside. Dental cavities are common, affecting over 90% of the population. Small cavities may not cause pain, and may be unnoticed by the patient. The larger cavities can collect food, and the inner pulp of the affected tooth can become irritated by bacterial toxins, foods that are cold, hot, sour, or sweet-causing toothache. Toothache from these larger cavities is the number one reason for visits to dentists.

What are the causes of cavities?

Cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth consume simple sugars, converting them into acid plaque. Acid plaque is different from the periodontal plaque that causes “Gum Disease.” The acid plaque produced by these bacteria cause the hard inorganic layers of the enamel and dentin to soften. The softened layers are then dissolved by saliva, leaving a hole (cavity) in the tooth. Unless filled by a dentist, the cavity can continue to erode and damage the inner pulp of the tooth. Damage to the pulp can lead to pulp death, infection and tooth abscess. Therefore, pulp damage will necessitate either tooth extraction or a root canal procedure where the dying pulp is removed and replaced with an inert material.

The problem is that most of us are not familiar with ‘mouth-healthy diet”.

Changes begin in your mouth the minute you start to eat certain foods. After eating sugar containing foods, carbohydrates,  Bacteria in your mouth make acids. When you eat fermentable carbohydrates – foods containing sugar — the bacteria in your mouth use the sugar for fuel and produce acids as a waste product.  Acidic media in your mouth  can dissolve enamel in less than five minutes.Regular acid assaults on enamel can wear holes in teeth, commonly called cavities.

In dentistry experience and Continuing Education are everything. Dr. Parvin Carter has over 30 years of experience in Practicing General Dentistry and 25 years in Orthodontics. She has thousands of hours of advanced training. In 2000, Academy of General Dentistry awarded Dr. Carter a Certificate of Mastership (MAGD) in General Dentistry. According to the Journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, only 1% of US dentists achieve this high level of advancement. Dr. Carter is a Certified and Preferred Provider of Invisalign. She has successfully treated over 360 patients with Invisalign.

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