Cavities form when bacterial processes change carbohydrates like sugar to acid which erodes hard tooth material (such as enamel, dentin and cementum). If demineralization exceeds saliva production and remineralization, the breakdown will lead to dental cavities. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to extreme pain, tooth loss, and infections.
Sometimes, cavities are visible as small chalky areas that eventually develop into large cavities. Other cavities are less detectable and can be located with radiographs. Radiographs and lasers are suitable for detecting less visible cavities. Proper dental hygiene and correct diet should be implemented to prevent tooth decay. Moreover, tooth restoration procedures should be implemented to counter the effects of advanced tooth decay.
Tooth decay is caused by specific types of acid-inducing bacteria that cause damage in the presence of fermentable carbohydrates. Furthermore, the minerals present in the teeth are sensitive to increases in acidity from the production of lactic acid.
Essentially, there are two types of cavities which are distinguished by location. Some cavities are found on smooth surfaces, and others are found in the pits and fissures of the teeth. Moreover, the location, development, and progression of smooth-surface cavities differ from those of pit and fissure cavities. Pits and fissures are the parts of the tooth where the enamel folds inward. Unfortunately, patients are often unaware that they are experiencing tooth decay. The earliest sign of a new cavity is the appearance of a chalky white spot on the surface of the tooth. Tucson dentists consider this to be the first sign of incipient decay.
As the lesion continues to demineralize, it can turn brown and eventually develop into a cavity. Before the cavity forms, the process is reversible, but once the cavity forms, the decaying tooth structure cannot be regenerated. As enamel and dentin are destroyed, the cavity will become more noticeable. This degenerative process causes extreme pain. In fact, the pain will worsen with exposure to hot and cold food and drinks. Patients suffering from severe toothaches should visit their Tucson dentists as soon as possible.
Tucson dentists will inspect all visible tooth surfaces using a good light source, dental mirror, and explorer to detect cavities. Afterwards, treatment, which will vary depending on the extent of decay, can begin.