Elmhurst Dentist Talks About How Cavities Develop

Written by Dr. Scharfenberg on Jul 12, 2011

Our Elmhurst family dentists recently saw a new patient, Janet, who found out in her first appointment with us that she had three new cavities! Janet hadn’t been to see a dentist in years, but she thought she could stay cavity-free by brushing and flossing diligently every day. Unfortunately, Janet didn’t know that daily brushing and flossing alone are not enough to prevent cavities—in order to prevent decay every patient needs professional cleanings as well as at-home care.


Once you understand how dental cavities form, it’s easy to see why professional cleanings are so important. So let’s review how cavities develop:


Dental enamel is the hard outer covering of the tooth. Enamel protects dental pulp, which is the sensitive bundle of nerves, blood vessels, and tissue in the inner core of the tooth. When the enamel is compromised, it develops holes and exposes dental pulp.


Plaque is a sticky substance of bacteria and sugar that coats dental enamel. Everyone has plaque every day, because it is a natural byproduct of eating and drinking. Brushing and flossing can brush away bacteria and prevent plaque buildup. However, it’s impossible to reach all of the plaque in your mouth, and eventually this plaque hardens in to tartar (also known as calculus). Tartar is plaque that has solidified on the enamel, so it can only be removed by dental professional. Regular, professional dental cleanings eliminate both plaque and tartar, keeping your smile sparkling!


Obviously, it’s important to brush and floss at least twice daily. Your home dental hygiene routine can help control and minimize plaque buildup. But what we’ve learned is that in order to remove hard to reach plaque and solidified tartar, you need a professional dental cleaning. Working with our Elmhurst family dentists, you can defend yourself against harmful cavities. As always, give us a call at (630) 733-1624 if you have any questions or you’d like to schedule an appointment—we’re here to help.