Caries/Cavities


One of the questions that we hear most from patients is “Do I have any cavities?”  But what are cavities?  The technical term is dental caries, a process where minerals are lost from the tooth structure due to exposure to acids.  The source of the acids is bacteria that adhere to the tooth surface, forming a sticky substance called plaque. The bacteria feed on what you eat, especially sugars (including fruit sugars) and starches (bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, etc.).  As the bacteria eat this food, they secrete acids as a byproduct, which causes the demineralization of your tooth structure, the result of which is cavities.

In early stages, caries is typically treated with fillings, a process where Dr. Nishizaka carefully removes the damaged tooth structure, then fills in the cavitation with a special material, typically a bonded composite.  If the caries is too extensive and the remaining tooth structure is weak, then a crown may be needed.  In worse case scenarios, if the nerve of the tooth is involved, root canal therapy may be required or the tooth may even have to be extracted.

How to Prevent Decay

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Clean between teeth daily with floss
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacking
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and exams