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What Are Cavities?


Registered on 2018. 01. 31
What Are Cavities?

What are Cavities?

"Cavities" is another way of saying tooth decay. Tooth decay is heavily influenced by lifestyle, what we eat, how well we take care of our teeth, the presence of fluoride in our water and toothpaste. Heredity also plays a role in how susceptible your teeth may be to decay.

While cavities are generally more common among children, adults are also at risk. The types of cavities include:

  • Coronal cavities — the most common type occurring in both children and adults, coronal cavities usually are located on chewing surfaces or between the teeth
  • Root cavities — as we age, our gums recede, leaving parts of the tooth root exposed. Since there is no enamel covering tooth roots, these exposed areas easily decay
  • Recurrent decay — decay can form around existing fillings and crowns. This is because these areas may have a tendency to accumulate plaque, which can ultimately lead to decay


Adults are especially at risk for cavities if they suffer from dry mouth, a condition due to a lack of saliva. Dry mouth may be caused by illness, medications, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and may be either temporary (days to months) or permanent, depending on its cause.

Cavities are very serious. Left untreated, a cavity can destroy your tooth and kill the delicate nerves at its center, which may result in an abscess, an area of infection at the root tip. Once an abscess forms, it can only be treated with a root canal, surgery or by extracting the tooth.


How Do I Know if I Have a Cavity?

Only your dentist can tell for sure whether you have a cavity. That's because cavities develop below the tooth's surface, where you can't see them. When you eat foods that contain carbohydrates (sugars and starches), these carbohydrates are eaten by the bacteria in plaque, producing acids that eat into the tooth. Over time, the tooth enamel begins to break down beneath the surface while the surface remains intact. When enough of the sub-surface enamel is eaten away, the surface collapses, forming a cavity.

Cavities are most likely to develop in pits on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, in between teeth, and near the gumline. But regardless of where they occur, the best way to spot them and treat them before they become serious is by visiting your dentist regularly for checkups.


How Can I Help Prevent Cavities?

  • Brush at least twice a day and floss daily to remove plaque from between teeth and below the gumline
  • Have regular dental checkups. Preventive care can help stop problems from occurring and keep minor problems from becoming major ones
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that limits starchy or sugary foods. When you do eat these foods, try to eat them with your meal instead of as a snack to minimize the number of times that your teeth are exposed to acid
  • Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste
  • Make sure that your children's drinking water is fluoridated. If your water supply does not contain fluoride, your dentist or pediatrician may prescribe daily fluoride supplements


Contact our Federal Way dentist, Dr. Brossel if you have any questions regarding dental cavities.


List of Articles

Periodontal Disease: Causes and Prevention file

  • Oct 16, 2018

What Is It? Periodontitis is a term used to describe a group of conditions that involves inflammation of the gums and other structures that support the teeth. Periodontitis is caused by bacteria found in dental plaque and often, but not always, starts as gingivitis. In trying to eliminate the bacterial infection, your body produces substances that destroy the structures that hold the teeth in the jaw, including the periodontal ligament and underlying bone. As this process continues, the teeth...
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8 Steps To A Brighter, Healthier Smile file

  • Jul 26, 2018

In order to achieve a sparkling smile, you’ll need to treat your teeth to more than just regular brushing. Healthy teeth start with healthy habits — from your brushing routine to the foods you should and shouldn’t eat. "Your mouth is your body’s initial point of contact with the nutrients you consume," says Kimberly A. Harms, DDS, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA). "So naturally, what you put in your mouth impacts not only the health of your teeth and gums, but also your...
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What Are The Stages Of Gum Disease? file

  • May 11, 2018

What is Gum Disease? Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. It is caused by the bacteria in plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. If not removed through daily brushing and flossing, plaque can build up and the bacteria infect not only your gums and teeth, but eventually the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth. This can cause them to become loose, fall out or have to be removed ...
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Toothbrush Care and Replacement

  • Feb 23, 2018

How can I take care of my toothbrush? To keep your toothbrush and yourself healthy, make sure you let it dry out between uses. Toothbrushes can be breeding grounds for germs, fungus and bacteria, which after a while can build up to significant levels. After using your toothbrush, shake it vigorously under tap water and store it in an upright position so that it can air out. To prevent cold and flu viruses from being passed between brushes, try to keep your toothbrush from touching others when i...
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What Are Cavities?

  • Jan 31, 2018

What are Cavities? "Cavities" is another way of saying tooth decay. Tooth decay is heavily influenced by lifestyle, what we eat, how well we take care of our teeth, the presence of fluoride in our water and toothpaste. Heredity also plays a role in how susceptible your teeth may be to decay. While cavities are generally more common among children, adults are also at risk. The types of cavities include: Coronal cavities — the most common type occurring in both children and adults, coronal c...
Read more

Caring For Your Dental Implants

  • Nov 28, 2017

Dental implants have been used successfully for many years. Your implant should last for a very long time if you take the following points to heart. Smoking This is one of the greatest risks for implant-related complications. You should therefore try to quit smoking. Oral Hygiene Thoroughly cleaning and caring for the implant during all steps of the treatment is extremely important. Careful attention to your oral hygiene every day is important for the survival of your implant. Maintenanc...
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Should you have your wisdom teeth removed?

  • Nov 10, 2017

Jennifer Flach was a college junior when her wisdom teeth started making themselves known. "My other teeth started moving around," she remembers. "The wisdom teeth were pushing out and undoing some of the orthodontic work I had done in high school." At the same time, her brother — who's two years younger and was also in college — had no symptoms. But the family dentist suggested his wisdom teeth should come out too. Jen and her brother had back-to-back wisdom tooth extractions and recovered toge...
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Taking Care Of Your Teeth

  • Sep 28, 2017

Teeth for a Lifetime Thanks to better at-home care and in-office dental treatments, more people than ever before are keeping their teeth throughout their lives. Although some diseases and conditions can make dental disease and tooth loss more likely, most of us have a good deal of control over whether we keep our teeth into old age. The most important thing you can do to maintain good oral health is to brush and floss your teeth regularly. Most mouth woes are caused by plaque, that sticky laye...
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Severe Tooth Pain file

  • Sep 05, 2017

Any injury to the gums or teeth can be very painful. In some cases, however, the cause of severe dental pain is not obvious. For example, pain that comes on suddenly may be caused by particles of food that got lodged in a cavity and have started to irritate the nerve inside the tooth. If you lose a filling or a crown, the nerve inside the tooth may be exposed, and you may feel severe pain when air or hot or cold substances touch the uncovered part of the tooth. Pain that becomes more severe...
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Keys to Controlling Bad Breath file

  • Aug 02, 2017

If you’re serious about learning what’s causing your bad breath, consider scheduling an appointment with your dental professional. Given your full medical and dental history along with an oral examination, your dentist should be able to identify the culprit. The causes of bad breath are numerous and include certain foods, alcohol or cigarettes, poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease, diabetes, dry mouth, sinus or throat infections, lung infections or abscesses, kidney/liver failure, gastrointest...
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Dr. Brossel is fantastic! I have always avoided going to the dentist at all costs, but immediately upon walking into their office I felt comfortable and at ease. His staff are all very sweet and helpful too. If you are in the market for a new Dentist, I would absolutely recommend Dr. Brossel and his team!

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Dr. Brossel is quick ! staff super friendly and you get what you pay for. It is a lil pricey i would suggest having a dental plan / insurance before getting anything done to help with pay but the results are worth it.

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My experience with Dr. Brossel and his staff was amazing. I highly recommend him. I see why he keeps being voted the best dentist in Federal Way.

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Dr. Brossel and the hygienists have a high quality of patient care, and they always have a smile. The front office staff is great at scheduling and dealing with insurance issues.

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Most certainly the best dentist I have had yet! Kenneth Brossel and his staff are very professional, highly knowledgeable, thoroughly precise, and better yet work in a speedy organized fashion.

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have been going to Dr Brossel for almost 30 years, and the people are wonderful!

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The contents of this website, such as text, videos, images and other material are intended for informational and educational purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice. Please contact our Federal Way dentist, Dr. Kenneth Brossel for any additional information on implants, crowns, bridges, dentures, root canals, and more. For questions, please call (253) 925-2171.