Julie M. Russo D.M.D.

Diplomate of the American
Board of Pediatric Dentistry

What Is A Cavity?

Proper flossing results.

A cavity is when the enamel of the tooth breaks down due to bacteria left on the teeth. The bacteria thrive on foods and drinks containing carbohydrates. The bacteria release acids when exposed to these sugars and starches. If not removed daily, the acids destroy the enamel and a cavity forms.

How do I prevent a cavity?

Four things are needed to cause tooth decay:

  1. Tooth
  2. Bacteria
  3. Sugars and Starches
  4. Time

If any one of these things is eliminated, a cavity will not form. We all have bacteria present in our mouths. They cannot be totally eliminated, but they can be reduced by daily flossing and proper brushing. Sugars and starches should be limited. It is not the amount of sugars and starches consumed, but the frequency. Children who snack and "graze" have a much higher incidence of decay than children who eat 3 meals a day with limited snacks. Watch for hidden sugars. The bacteria cannot tell the difference between sugar from juice or from soda. Some snacks (like cheese and nuts) do not contribute to cavities.

Why is flossing important?

Cavities can be prevented and it is easy! With daily brushing and flossing (don't miss a day!) and proper nutrition you will be on your way to a cavity free life. Children under age 8 do not have the fine motor skills to do a thorough cleaning. They will need parental help to keep the gum line areas clean on both the insides and the outsides of the teeth. They also will need help with flossing. It is important that the children see their parents also brush and floss regularly. You can set a good example regarding the importance of maintaining a healthy smile.