April 24, 2020
What Causes Cavities in Your Teeth
Many people wonder what causes cavities; they want to know how to avoid this common problem that leads to discomfort, pain and tooth loss. Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. Cavities, also called tooth decay or caries, are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks and not cleaning your teeth well.
Cavities are caused by tooth decay — a process that occurs over time. Here’s how tooth decay develops:
Poor Oral Hygiene: Not brushing your teeth regularly allows plaque to build up and attack the tooth enamel.
Plaque Formation: When not removed on regular basis, plaque adheres to your teeth and builds up over time. In presence of sugar, plaque produces acid which attacks the enamel of your tooth and eventually can cause holes in your teeth, otherwise known as cavities.
Dry Mouth: Saliva helps wash plaque from the teeth and buffer the acid. If you have a dry mouth with very little saliva, plaque and tooth bacteria may build up more quickly.
Eating and Drinking: This is where it all begins. Since we all have to eat and drink to live, there’s no way to avoid this, but it does play a significant role in the formation of cavities. When you eat or drink, carbohydrates remain on your teeth until you brush. Even after brushing, you may not be able to remove all food particles or carbohydrates from your teeth. Foods that tend to cling to your teeth can increase your risk for a tooth cavity. Be sure to brush your teeth regularly, especially after drinking milk or sugar containing soda, or after eating dried fruit, dry cereal, hard candy, caramel, taffy, raisins, sugary cereals, , and cookies.
Plaque Bacteria and Acid: While most people don’t like to think about it, bacteria naturally live in your mouth and on your teeth. When these bacteria digest the carbohydrates that linger on your teeth and in your mouth, acid forms.
Medical Problems: Some types of cancer treatment that expose the head and neck to radiation can promote a tooth cavity by changing the makeup of the saliva to promote increased bacterial growth.
Cavities develop more often in the back teeth. These teeth have grooves and openings that can trap food particles. Also, these teeth are sometimes harder to reach when brushing and flossing.