Cavities, also known as caries, are tiny holes in teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90 percent of people over age 20 in the U.S. have had dental caries in permanent teeth, while over 40 percent of kids and teens ages 2 to 19 have had cavities. Dr. Justin DeGarmo of Elizabethtown Family Dentistry wants to reduce the prevalence of cavities and related dental problems by educating people about what cavities are and how to prevent them.
Dr. Justin DeGarmo explains that cavities are a result of tooth decay. Bacteria, the most common of which is called streptococcus mutans, plaque, which contains acid. It is this acid which eats away at the tooth. It first demineralizes the enamel, the protective tooth coating made primarily of calcium and phosphate. Then, it proceeds to erode the dentin layer underneath the enamel, forming a cavity.
Bacteria feed off of carbohydrates, Justin DeGarmo says, which is why dentists typically recommend avoiding or limiting your intake of sugary and starchy foods and drinks, including soda, alcohol, most cereals, cakes, and candy. If you eat such foods in moderation, brush and floss daily, and see your dentist for routine dental cleanings, your body should be able to mitigate the damage caused by these “acid attacks”, remineralizing through salvia, fluoride, and other sources, such as eating calcium-rich foods. However, if you eat too much of such foods and do not practice good dental hygiene practices, the body does not have the opportunity to remineralize the enamel before another attack, which will more than likely eventually result in cavities.
Justin DeGarmo says you may see small white spots on your teeth as a first sign of decay. At this point, it can be stopped or reversed. This is one reason it is crucial to see your dentist once every six months, so they can check for signs of trouble and stop cavities before they occur. If you have a pain in your tooth or notice a black spot or hole which you think could be a cavity, Justin DeGarmo advises seeing your dentist as soon as possible. Cavities will only get worse if untreated and can become increasingly painful too.
Dr. Justin DeGarmo received a B.S. in Health Sciences at Clemson University and D.M.D. degree at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. Following dental school, he completed a one-year residency in St. Petersburg, FL and earned certification for Advanced Education in General Dentistry through the University of Florida. During his residency, Dr. Justin DeGarmo trained at the Dawson Academy and earned his Fellowship from the International Congress of Oral Implantologists.
Dr. Justin DeGarmo is a member of the American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, the Christian Medical and Dental Association, and the North Carolina Dental Association. Justin DeGarmo is a founding member of the Southeastern Prosthodontic Study Club.