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How Do Cavities Form?

By J. Brent Gorrell on July 03, 2015

Illustration showing a cross-section of a tooth, revealing the nerves at its center, which can become damaged if a cavity formsAt the general dentistry practice of Dr. J. Brent Gorrell, one of the questions we most commonly receive from patients is “How do cavities form?” Actually, during consultations at our Mountain View office, the question is more often posed as “How in the world did I get a cavity? I brush and floss twice a day; I don’t eat sugary snacks - how could this happen to me?”

What we have discovered through the years is that, while nearly all of our patients have heard of cavities and have at least a basic understanding of what they are, they don’t really know much about how they form and how they can be avoided. Dr. Gorrell offers a variety of treatments that can restore health, function, and beauty to teeth that have been damaged by cavities; however, he also provides patients with something more valuable: education. Patients leave our office knowing how they can protect their remaining healthy teeth from cavities and prevent themselves from having to undergo further restorative dentistry treatments in the future.

Understanding How Cavities Form

Your teeth are protected by an extremely strong substance called enamel. This outer layer of your teeth is rugged enough to withstand the daily rigors of biting and chewing as long as you take proper care of your mouth, brushing and flossing at least twice a day and visiting the dentist at least twice a year as recommended by the American Dental Association. You should also avoid overindulging in highly acidic foods such as salad dressings, berries, citrus fruits, and tomato sauces, as well as bad habits such as smoking and chewing on your fingernails.

Of course, most people are not perfect. We may intend to brush our teeth after every meal, but occasionally let it slide. We get busy, and suddenly we realize that a year has passed without a trip to the dentist. To err is human, but unfortunately, to be human is often to allow bacteria and plaque to build up on our teeth. Over time, plaque will harden into tartar, which cannot be removed without the aid of a dentist. In addition to tartar, plaque and bacteria can hide in places where a toothbrush and floss cannot reach. The failure to visit the dentist for routine professional cleanings can result in the erosion of the protective enamel and the exposure of the underlying layer of the teeth, the dentin.

The dentin is far more vulnerable to damage than the enamel. Once exposed, the dentin can develop holes and crevices, known as caries, or cavities. When caught and treated in a timely fashion, cavities may not cause much damage to teeth. However, if left untreated, the inner structures of the teeth - the root canals - can become infected, which will eventually lead to pain and the loss of the tooth.

Learn More about the Formation of Cavities

To learn more about the formation of cavities, or to schedule an appointment at our practice, please contact Dr. J. Brent Gorrell today.

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I moved out of the area 20 years ago and happily drive 40 miles to still see Dr. Gorrell. Best dentist ever. Kevin B.

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Mountain View Office

809 Cuesta Dr
Ste 205
Mountain View, CA 94040

Open Today 9:00am - 1:00pm

More Info Directions (650) 967-1441

Mountain View Office

809 Cuesta Dr
Ste 205
Mountain View, CA 94040

Open Today 9:00am - 1:00pm

More Info Directions (650) 967-1441