Did you know that it can take years for a cavity to form and get through the outermost layer of the tooth called the enamel? But once the bacteria that causes cavities gets to the middle layer, the dentin, it can take only a couple months for that cavity to grow large enough where it can start to damage the pulp.
Each tooth has three layers:
The outer layer (ENAMEL): This is the hardest substance in the human body (85% mineral).
The middle layer (DENTIN): The dentin is harder than bone, but nowhere near as hard as enamel (47% mineral).
The innermost layer (PULP): This is where the nerve and blood supply to the teeth is located.
Many times when Dr. Johnson or I perform our routine dental exams we place “watches” in your electronic chart to indicate the start of a cavity (the cavity is just in the enamel). If that cavity grows large enough where it reaches the dentin, we need to treat that cavity as soon as possible to prevent it from reaching the pulp. If the pulp is reached, you run the risk of having a painful (abscessed) tooth. Trust me, having an abscessed tooth is not fun!
Dr. Johnson and I are better able to monitor “watches” in your chart and help educate and encourage you to keep up with regular dental care when you come in for cleanings and checkups at least 2 times per year. The frequent visits also allow us to diagnose and treat cavities when they are small. If you start to miss your periodic exams, we could start seeing an increased frequency of large cavities, other issues and severe tooth pain.
Please make sure to continue with your regular dental care, even through this pandemic! Most dental offices, including ours, are taking steps to keep their patients and team safe, while continuing with routine dental care. Click here to see what we are doing to keep our patients and team safe: Saving Smiles Dentistry COVID-19 Response.
If you are at an increased risk of complications from the novel COVID-19 virus, please continue bushing twice per day for two minutes and flossing daily until you feel you are able to visit your dental office for your regular cleanings and exams. If you have any questions about keeping up with your dental health, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.
Stay safe and healthy,
Dr. Kenny Bartholomew, DDS