The Dangers of Cavities

The Dangers of Cavities

Nupur Gupta, DDS, and our team at Perfect Smiles Dental of Pleasant Hill work hard to keep the smiles of folks living in and around Pleasant Hill, California, healthy and beautiful. 

Our services include preventive, general, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry for your entire family, including early detection and treatment for cavities. 

We’re happy to provide information you can use regarding the importance of treating cavities before they threaten your oral health.

The anatomy of a tooth

Each of your teeth has several layers of tissue that include:

Enamel

Enamel is the thin layer of tissue that covers the visible (crown) portion of your teeth. Composed mostly of minerals, it’s the hardest substance in your body with a strength that’s equivalent to steel.

Dentin

Dentin is located just beneath the enamel and forms the crown as well as the root that extends below the gumline and surrounds the inner tooth tissue.

Cementum

Cementum is a thin layer of hard tissue that covers the tooth root that sits in your jaw.

Pulp

Dental pulp is the innermost layer of a tooth. It contains the nerves and blood vessels that travel from your jaw to provide nourishment for your teeth.

The nature of cavities

Tooth decay that occurs on the hard surfaces of your teeth can eventually form holes or cavities. Without treatment, cavities continue to grow and destroy increasingly larger portions of the enamel, dentin, and cementum.

Cavities that form on the top or sides of your teeth first develop in areas where the enamel has worn away. This gives bacteria and other cavity-causing organisms access to the dentin, which is softer than enamel.

Enamel erosion may be due to a diet that’s high in sugary foods and beverages or poor brushing habits. It also tends to wear away naturally as you age. A chip or crack in a tooth may also provide a foothold for decay. Some cavities form at the edge of old fillings.

Decay can develop at or below the gumline in the cementum that covers the tooth root. Usually linked to a lack of professional dental care, this type of cavity occurs when plaque buildup causes gum tissue to pull away from the cementum.

How are cavities dangerous?

Teeth weaken and become more sensitive as they decay. This can make it hard to chew, which can affect your digestive health, overall nutritional status, and enjoyment gained from food. It’s hard to be happy with soup when you’re craving a crunchy salad.   

Along with their cosmetic effects, cavities eventually cause significant discomfort as the decay moves through the outer layers of your tooth into the pulp and irritates the nerves that carry pain signals to your brain.

Openings into the pulp portion of your tooth also create an easy route for bacteria to enter your root canal, the channel through which nerves and blood vessels travel from your jaw to your inner tooth.

This can lead to an abscess or infection that may enter your bloodstream and spread to your heart, lungs, or other organs. Anyone can develop this type of infection, but individuals with diabetes and other medical conditions that compromise their immune health are especially vulnerable.

For outstanding dental care that’s designed to keep your smile beautiful and cavity-free, schedule an evaluation with Dr. Gupta at Perfect Smiles Dental of Pleasant Hill today.

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