What are the 3 different types of cavities?

By - Bad Breath Expert

SUMMARY:  Knowing the types of cavities is part of proper oral care. Here is everything you need to remember.

Posted: February 9, 2016

Generally speaking, cavities form in pretty much the same way every time. Bacteria and plaque build up - whether from consuming acidic food or a lack of brushing - and then begin to break down the enamel of your teeth. However, as Oral-B explained, not all cavities are the same, and there are three distinct variations. Understanding each kind of cavity is important to knowing your risks, avoiding them effectively and, ultimately, maintaining proper oral care. Here is some valuable insight into each of the three different types of cavities:

"Knowing the types of cavities is part of proper oral care."

1. Smooth surface decay

As you might have guessed from the name, this type of cavity only affects the surface of the teeth, the protective layer known as the enamel. As Prestige Treatment Option explained, smooth surface cavities usually occur on the front and back of teeth. The attack range of these cavities is fairly wide - thanks to the level of acid many people consume - and involves at least minimal exposure on almost every tooth. The problem worsens when those decay paths converge, causing more intensive, targeted damage to teeth. Fortunately, Merck Manuals said that smooth surface is generally reversible before it becomes a real issue for people in their 20s and 30s. Smooth surface decay usually appears as a small white spot on a tooth. 

2. Pit and fissure decay

If left untreated for too long, the small surface decays will worsen, eventually turning into decay of the pit and fissure. The pits and fissures of your teeth are those deep, groovy areas that appear on both pre-molar and molars and are especially useful for chewing foods. These areas are at risk because they're often hard to clean thoroughly, and that leaves behind a lot of damaging acid and bacteria. As such, the American Dental Association said that decay in the pit and fissure are especially common and represent the bulk of the cavities being treated. In recent years, dentists have begun to address these problems by using a specialized sealant. Closing off pits and fissures can prevent prolonged decay and stop cavities before they fully form.

3. Root decay

The third and final type of cavity is perhaps the worst of all three. If given enough time to operate, bacteria can move through the surface of teeth and start attacking the root. According to Tooth Wisdom, years of improper brushing techniques can often expose the roots, which are then vulnerable to a forward assault from nasty bacterial strains. And because the roots don't have the protective layer of enamel on top, the decaying process can happen much faster than with other types of cavities. Though these cavities can occur in children and teens, root problems are more frequent among older adults. A 2006 study noted certain medications taken by senior citizens can reduce saliva production, and that can increase the likelihood of root-based cavities. 

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