How Exactly Does a Cavity Hurt Your Teeth?

The last thing you want to hear when you go in for your dental visit is, “You have a cavity”. Nearly all of us are familiar with this dental condition. We know the foods and drinks we should eat to fight cavities, how to brush our teeth to prevent tooth decay, and to avoid habits that can hurt teeth. Dentists call them dental caries, children call them little monsters in their mouth.

But what is a cavity, exactly, and how does it hurt your teeth? Is it a virus that spreads through the air? Is it a germ stuck on sugary foods? Is it a parasite that wriggles inside your mouth when you sleep? And once it’s on your teeth, how does it inflict harm? Does it flash little pincers and start chomping through your teeth, or find a crack and crevice and start digging?

Read on to find out what cavities are and how exactly they harm your teeth.


Cavities Are Infections of Your Teeth

Despite what many children (and possibly some adults) believe, cavities are not “little monsters”, viruses, or parasites. A cavity, or dental caries is the term used to describe a condition of infection on your teeth. The infection itself is made up of two components: the bacteria on your teeth, and carbohydrates (sugars) that you consume. These two dentally-maleficent substances work together to fight tooth enamel.

Bacteria and Tooth Enamel

Bolstered by the carbohydrates found in sugary foods like candy and soda, bacteria acid wears away tooth enamel. You have likely heard this before, but what actually happens? Bacteria secrete acid with a pH (acidity) of 6.2-7.0 on a regular basis. When bacteria consume carbohydrates, however, their secretions drop on the pH scale (become more acidic), reaching levels of 5.5-5.2 pH, which is strong enough to disintegrate your tooth enamel.

Cavities Develop When Bacteria Reaches the Inner Tooth

Once your tooth’s enamel is breached, the bacteria invades the softer, more vulnerable area of your tooth beneath the enamel. This is called the dentin, and is the last line of defense that protects the core of your tooth. Unfortunately, bacteria devours through this soft tissue quickly. This is typically when dentists classify this event as a cavity. If left untreated, the cavity will break through the dentin to reach the pulp of the tooth, which houses the tooth’s blood supply as well as its nerves. As the infection takes hold in this area, the person will experience increasing pain. Without a dentist’s care, the corruption deepens in the tooth, resulting in a root canal.


Are you suffering from tooth pain or a cavity? Do you think you need professional treatment? Be sure to remove or prevent cavities by visiting Greenspoint Dental. Here, you will be in the care of experienced dentists who will wipe out any and all infection in your mouth. To schedule an appointment, contact our offices in Houston, Texas today.