A Guide to Understanding What Causes Cavities

Have you ever wondered why some people are more prone to cavities than other people? Ask your dentist what causes a cavity to learn more about the risk factors. The truth is that certain lifestyle and genetic factors can make a person more prone to the formation of cavities.

Cavities are one of the most commonly treated oral health conditions in every dental office. It’s expected that every person will have at least one or more cavities at some point in their lives. Not only should you know how to seek treatment, but it’s also important to understand what causes cavities so that you can prevent this type of tooth decay.

What are Cavities?

As you are learning about the underlying causes of cavities, it can be helpful to know what is happening to your teeth. Cavities, also commonly known as caries or tooth decay, happen when tiny  start to form on the teeth.

The outside of your teeth is protected by hard enamel. But if bacteria stay on the surface of the teeth, then it can start to eat through the enamel and move into the inside of the tooth. This degradation is known as tooth decay. It will continue to spread and get worse over time, eventually resulting in a situation where the tooth might be damaged beyond repair.

Not only are there things that you can do to prevent cavities. But it’s also critical to be diligent about early detection. If your dentist identifies the signs of cavities in the earliest stages, then proactive treatments can be used to stop the progression and reduce the risk of more serious oral health problems in the future.

What Causes Cavity Formation?

Over the years, dental researchers and experts have learned more about the reasons why cavities form. What is the science behind cavities? The underlying reason is the presence of plaque on the teeth, which is a sticky film of bacteria that sits on the surface of the teeth.

When bacteria are present, they feed on the sugars in the foods and drinks you consume. This process results in the production of acid, which starts to damage the tooth. The acids erode the tooth enamel, breaking down the hard protective layer on the outside of the tooth.

The good news is that cavities can be prevented by removing this plaque formation and buildup. This is the reason why it’s so important to be brushing and flossing your teeth every day. These oral health habits help by removing the plaque and minimizing the risk of acid-causing bacteria to stay in place long enough to lead to the formation of a cavity.

What Food Causes the Most Cavities? Dietary Factors to Consider

Does sugar cause cavities? Yes, there is an undeniable link between the consumption of sugary food and drinks and the formation of cavities. Ask any dentist what causes cavities, and they will agree that sugary foods are the main culprit.

One important thing that every patient needs to understand is that the frequency of sugar consumption matters more than the amount of sugar being consumed. Each time you eat sugar, it provides a food source for the cavity-causing bacteria and results in the acidic byproducts. So, one of the worst things that you can do is snack on candies or sip on a soda throughout the day. A better solution is to eat the treat, then brush your teeth immediately to remove the bacteria-feeding sugar in your mouth.

Not only do candies, desserts, and soda contribute to cavity formation, but other types of processed foods can also be a problem. If you are eating anything that is starchy, such as chips and bread, then it’s also important to brush your teeth after eating these foods.

So, if you want to prevent cavities, then it’s important that you are limiting these sugary and starchy foods. If you are unable to brush your teeth after eating, then at least rinse your mouth with fresh water when you are finished eating.

Best Oral Hygiene Habits for Cavity Prevention

When you understand what causes cavities, then it’s easy to see the importance of oral hygiene habits for prevention. If you are proactive about removing and disrupting cavity-causing plaque, then you can feel good knowing that your risk of cavities goes down.

Here are a few essential habits that every patient should be following to avoid cavities:

  • Brushing Twice a Day: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to brush for at least two minutes, and be thorough about cleaning all areas of the mouth and teeth.
  • Flossing Once a Day: There are areas between the teeth that can’t be reached with a toothbrush. So, it’s important to floss once a day so that you can clean between the teeth.
  • Use Mouthwash: A good mouthwash can be helpful to reduce bacteria in the mouth. Even though mouthwash isn’t a substitution for brushing and flossing, it can be a good addition to your oral health routine.
  • Tongue Cleaning: Did you know that bacteria can collect on the surface of your tongue? When you are cleaning your teeth, also clean the tongue. You can use your toothbrush. Or, some people like to use a tongue scraper for a more thorough cleaning.

In addition to regular oral health habits, make sure that you are also using the right techniques for brushing and flossing. It’s important to ensure that you are thoroughly cleaning all parts of the teeth. Our dental team can offer information and guidance to teach you proper techniques if you need more information. We are always happy to educate our patients and empower you in the best at-home oral health habits.

How Did I Get a Cavity If I Brush My Teeth?

Even if you are consistent about regular brushing and flossing, it isn’t a definite solution that prevents cavities completely. The truth is that other factors can contribute to tooth decay.

If you are brushing and flossing every day and you are still getting cavities, then the best thing you can do is talk to your dentist about these concerns. Different brushing and flossing techniques might be discussed. Also, the dentist might recommend the use of special products such as toothpaste with a higher fluoride content.

Other Risk Factors That Could Be the Cause of Cavities

What are the main causes of cavities? In addition to your dietary choices, there are other factors that could increase your risk. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Dry Mouth: Salvia is a protective element for your teeth. If the saliva flow reduces, then it can make your teeth more prone to decay.
  • Medical Conditions: Some seemingly unrelated medical conditions could increase your risk of cavities, such as eating disorders or acid reflux.
  • Genetics: There are situations where people have a genetic predisposition to cavities. Their teeth are weaker compared to most people.
  • Medications: The use of certain medications can reduce saliva production, which has an impact on overall oral health.

Call the Dental Health Experts

Our team at myDental is here to help you learn more about what is the cause of cavities and how you can protect your oral health. Make sure you are consistent about maintaining regular dental checkups. You can easily book an appointment at one of our local offices.