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How Do Cavities Form By Andrew Mortensen, DDS on January 15, 2013

How Do Cavities FormCavities are one of the most common dental problems, and one that almost everyone has heard of. But do you understand what cavities are and how they form? If you ask most people, they have a very vague idea of what cavities are, and these are not always accurate. The team at our Fountain Valley cosmetic dentistry practice would like to take this opportunity to look at the basics of cavities and help you understand why treating tooth decay is so important.

What are cavities?

Cavities, also known as dental caries, are basically holes in the structure of the teeth caused by acidic plaque build up. This plaque build up is caused by the normal bacteria that occurs in the mouth. Each time you visit a cosmetic dentist serving Huntington Beach, you will be carefully examined for cavities.

Oral Bacteria

Everyone has bacteria in their mouths. This bacteria is the reason that cavities form and that bad breath occurs. The bacteria feeds on the food particles left on the teeth. With regular cleanings, this bacteria can be managed and not do any major harm to your teeth.


If food remains on the teeth and goes uncleaned, the bacteria feeds on it and creates a substance known as plaque in the process. This plaque is highly acidic, and when it is allowed to remain on the teeth, it will eat at the outer layer of the teeth.

Tooth Structure: Enamel and Dentin Layers

The outermost layer of the tooth is made of enamel. Enamel is one of the hardest structures in the human body, but even enamel cannot go unaffected by the acidity of plaque. Beneath the enamel layer is a substance called dentin, and behind this dentin layer is the pulp chamber which houses nerves and soft tissues important for the proper function of the tooth.

Why Cavities Need to Get Filled

Cavities compromise the structure of the teeth. If untreated and enamel and dentin are damaged, it can weaken a tooth, making it more susceptible to serious damage, such as deep cracks and major chips. If the bacteria winds up infecting the pulp chamber of the tooth, it can result in major pain and discomfort, requiring a root canal to alleviate.

Treating Small Cavities

For small and basic cavities, the best option for treatment is a dental filling. Tooth-colored dental fillings will restore the damaged tooth structure, helping to maintain dental health for the long run.

Addressing Advanced Tooth Decay

When tooth decay goes untreated for a long time, it often means a more substantial treatment option will be required to properly restore dental health and tooth structure. In such cases, inlays, onlays, and Fountain Valley dental crowns are far more ideal. We will be able to discuss all of these options with you in greater detail during your visit to our practice.

Learn More About Advanced Dental Care Treatment

For more information about treatments for tooth decay and other dental health issues, be sure to contact our Fountain Valley cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today.

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Andrew G. Mortensen, DDS

Andrew G. Mortensen, DDS

Dr. Andrew Mortensen is a top-rated dentist with training from the world-famous Las Vegas Institute. His exceptional care and expertise have earned him hundreds of 5-star reviews, and he is an accredited member of the:

  • American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
  • American Dental Association
  • California Dental Association
  • Orange County Dental Society 

Ready to schedule a consultation at our Huntington Beach dental practice? Request an appointment online or call us at (714) 964-4183.

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"I am proud to have served patients in our community. Through continuing education and state-of-the-art equipment, we are able to offer you and your family the high level of care you're looking for." Andrew G. Mortensen, D.D.S.

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