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Are Cavities Permanent?

Cavities are spots of decay that can form on our teeth. They are a common dental concern that affects nearly one in four adults. Because so many people get cavities, it is crucial to know more about them in order to benefit your oral health. Unless you are a dental professional, you may not know what causes cavities or how to fix them. In fact, a common question people have about cavities is if they are permanent. 

Are Cavities Permanent?

Decoding Cavities

The first step in avoiding cavities is knowing how they start. One of the most common reasons for cavities is poor oral health. When you don’t brush or floss as recommended, it can lead to an increase in plaque. Plaque is a form of harmful bacteria that will build on your teeth and under your gum line. 

This bacteria will interact with the sugar that you consume. As it feeds on sugar, the bacteria will produce acids that weaken your enamel. This will eventually lead to cavities and tooth decay. 

Early Stages: Reversibility

When acid attacks the enamel, it removes essential minerals like calcium. This process is called “demineralization.” In its earliest stages, a cavity will demineralize the enamel without penetrating it. As a result, you can put steps in place to remineralize your tooth. 

For example, fluoride treatments from your dentist can supply your enamel with the necessary fluoride. Additionally, proper oral hygiene and a balanced diet can help to remineralize your enamel. Effectively, this can reverse the initial damage from a cavity. 

Progression to Permanent Damage

Without treatment or intervention, the decay will continue to spread deeper into the enamel. Once it burrows through the enamel, it can reach the dentin or even the pulp, which contains the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels. 

At this stage, you can’t reverse cavities on their own. This is because the damage becomes permanent. As a result, you need to seek treatment from your dentist. Otherwise, the decay can lead to infection or tooth loss. 

Restorative Interventions

With most cavities, your dentist will use a dental filling to stop the spread of decay. During this process, your dentist will remove the decayed portion of your tooth. After cleaning the area, they will replace the decay with a filling. The filling materials range from composite resin to amalgam. A filling will restore the structure of your tooth.  

Another option is a dental crown. If you have more extensive decay, your dentist may need to use a crown. A crown will cover and protect the tooth to prevent more damage. 

If your cavity causes an infection, your dentist may need to perform a root canal to save your tooth. This process involves your dentist removing all of the infected pulp and decayed tooth. They will replace the area with a dental material and a dental crown. This process is necessary to avoid tooth extraction. 

Preventive Measures

To avoid any of these procedures, it is best to employ preventive measures. With proper oral hygiene, you can reduce your risks of tooth decay. For example, brushing and flossing every day can get rid of necessary plaque and bacteria. 

Regular dental checkups are vital to prevent damage from cavities. Your dentist can detect cavities in their earliest stages.