What Causes Cavities: Formation & Prevention
Have you ever bitten into a piece of candy and felt a jolt of pain or sensitivity in your tooth? Have you been avoiding a tooth because it just didn’t feel right? Or have you noticed a little hole in the tooth and wondered “where did that come from?” You may have a cavity in your tooth which is producing these symptoms. Cavities can occur in people of all ages. They do not discriminate between children and adults. Let’s explore what causes cavities and what you can do to prevent them.
How Does a Cavity Form?
Cavities occur when the enamel, the outer layer of tooth structure, is destroyed. This destruction occurs when the bacteria containing plaque, which constantly resides on your teeth, is fed sugar from various foods and drinks and forms harmful acids. These acids destroy tooth enamel and leave teeth susceptible to decay. This decay then forms a hole in the tooth, known as a cavity.
What Causes Cavities?
- Poor Oral Hygiene: If plaque isn’t removed from the tooth, the enamel will start to wear down from the sugar and acidity in the foods and drinks constantly attacking it. This is why it is so important to develop good brushing and flossing habits.
- Acidic Foods and Drinks: The acids in foods and drinks can make the decay forming bacteria even more powerful in causing cavities.
- Lack of Fluoride: Fluoride helps to restore tooth enamel and protect teeth from acids and, therefore, decay.
- Dry mouth: Your saliva protects teeth from decay by acting as a buffer in the mouth towards acidic foods and drinks. It also helps wash away sugars and food debris. A dry mouth lacks the saliva necessary in doing this, resulting in cavity formation.
How Do You Prevent a Cavity?
- Good Oral Hygiene: Brushing, using a fluoride toothpaste, and flossing twice a day is essential in protecting your teeth from cavities. This will keep your teeth free of food debris and remove the harmful sugars and plaque.
- Avoid Sugary/Acidic Foods and Drinks
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking water helps stimulate your salivary flow which will act as a buffer to the acids in the mouth.
- Regular Checkups: Visit your dentist for regular cleanings and oral exams twice a year.
At O’Connor Dental Care, Dr. O’Connor and Dr. Emily can assess your mouth, thoroughly clean your teeth, and provide you with any necessary information to help in your prevention of cavities. If you feel like you are becoming more susceptible to cavities, we can listen and give you recommendations to help stop the progression of tooth decay. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!