It is important to distinguish between caries, the Latin word for decay, and a cavity, which is the hole that occurs if the caries has destroyed the tooth enamel and penetrated the tooth’s dentin. Caries may first appear as a white or brown spot on tooth enamel. It is an indication that bacterial acids have begun to dissolve calcium and phosphate in the tooth enamel (demineralization). If it is detected early enough, it is possible to remineralize the enamel and stop decay by cleaning the teeth thoroughly, applying topical fluorides, and removing plaque. Otherwise, once a cavity forms, remineralization cannot fill it up. Left untreated, a cavity will continue to grow until it destroys the entire crown of the tooth.
Cavity-causing bacteria and its resultant damage can be controlled if we deal with bacterial plaque activity on a daily basis. A toothbrush alone, however, cannot do the whole job. It takes the combined effort of conscientious daily brushing and flossing, smart eating, and professional visits to promote total oral health. If it’s been too long since you treated your teeth and gums to professional care, now would be a good time to call West Brookfield Dental, 508.867.2777, for an appointment. We’re located at 9 West Main St., West Brookfield.
P.S. Dentin is the bone-like tissue that makes up the largest portion of the tooth.