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Monday 9:00am - 6:00pm

Tuesday -Thursday
8:00am - 5:00pm

Friday 8:00am - 12:00pm

Summer Hours

Specials hours

Monday 9:00am - 5:00pm

Tuesday -Thursday
8:00am - 5:00pm

Friday,Saturday,Sunday Closed

Phone: 989-773-3560

900 E Bellows St, Mt Pleasant, MI 48858


New Year, Not New Cavities

If you’re over the age of 40, it’s unlikely you made it through childhood without having at least a couple cavities and their corresponding silver amalgam fillings. Want proof? Over 90 percent of adults over 40 have at least one filling in a permanent tooth.

But most of us think that was it — surely adults don’t get cavities. Those are the domain of kids and their developing teeth. With our bulletproof adult enamel, we don’t worry about cavities, right?

Wrong. Adults can still get cavities, but the causes are typically different than when kids get them.

What causes cavities in adult teeth?

There are two main culprits behind adult cavity development.

Receding gums — Whether due to gum disease or overly vigorous tooth brushing, your gum tissue can become swollen and begin to pull upwards off your tooth roots just a bit. This recession exposes those roots. Unlike the surfaces above the gum line, roots are not protected by enamel. Instead, they are covered by a softer material known as “cementum.” Enamel is great at fighting decay; cementum, not so much. This makes exposed tooth roots more susceptible to plaque and decay.

We’ve talked about periodontal disease in this blog often. It’s not that we want to beat our patients over the head with it, but gum disease is unfortunate because it is almost always preventable. All it takes is good home oral hygiene and keeping your twice-yearly visits with Dr. Egger for professional cleanings and exams. We spot some early gum irritation and alert you to it before it becomes any big deal. Receding gums would be one of those telltale signs, and if we spot it we can help you reverse it. This works to avoid both gum disease and cavities developing in the tooth root.

Failed fillings — Since virtually all adults have at least one or two fillings, this is the second source of adult cavities. That’s because existing fillings don’t last forever. As a filling weakens over time, it tends to fracture and the seal between the filling material (usually silver amalgam) and the tooth loosens. This opens the door for bacteria to accumulate in the cracks and crevices. When these bacteria ingest food particles and sugars left in your mouth after eating, they secrete acid. When they do so in the space under a loose filling, that will lead to new decay in the tooth.

As with gum disease, this decay is usually preventable. The key is good home hygiene coupled with seeing us twice each year. When we are examining your teeth, we test all of your existing cavities. That’s why Dr. Egger pushes and prods your fillings when you are her: he’s testing the filling to see if the bond is still strong. If it feels loose, we can replace the filling and avoid new damage from decay. But if we don’t see you that decay can make its way down into the interior of the tooth. Now you’re entering the realm of real pain, as the bacteria begins to come in contact with nerves in the interior the tooth. And you’ll need a root canal to save the tooth. Uh oh.

So, now that we’ve thankfully put the awful year of 2020 behind us, let’s not bring any new adult cavities into the New Year. Call Dr. Egger at (989) 773-3560 to schedule your next regular cleaning and exam.