How Do Cavities Form?
When it comes to cavities, plaque is your main culprit. This sticky biofilm of bacteria continually forms on your teeth and feeds on the sugars in the foods you eat and liquids you drink. The bacteria in plaque releases acid, and the stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth, which damages the tooth's enamel through the loss of calcium and phosphate. This process is known as demineralisation and can cause white spots to form on the tooth's surface. These tiny openings in the enamel represent the first stage of cavities.
If allowed to progress, the acid and bacteria will then begin to impact the next layer of the tooth called dentine. Dentine is made of microscopic tubules, and without the protective covering of the enamel, these tubules allow hot, cold, acidic and sticky foods to stimulate the nerves inside the tooth, causing tooth sensitivity and pain.
If not stopped, plaque will work through the tooth until it reaches the inner tooth material, known as the pulp. This soft tissue at the centre of your tooth contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues. When the bacteria infect the pulp, a tooth abscess can occur, which causes severe toothaches, extreme temperature sensitivity, pain when biting, fever, and even swelling in the face or cheeks.