Cavities: What Is To Blame?

18 October 2022
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

Decay is one of the most frequent reasons for visits to the dentist. Many people think eating too many sweets is to blame for cavities but there is much more to it than that. Read on to get the scoop on what causes tooth decay and how to combat this common dental malady.

Tooth Decay Causes 

To simplify things, almost all tooth decay can be blamed on plaque. This bacterial substance forms on the surfaces of teeth and must be removed before it damages the enamel. The bacteria is caused by food and drinks that are left on teeth after eating. Plaque is not easily removed by brushing and flossing and usually must be removed by the dental hygienist. Unfortunately, plaque can damage the enamel and allow bacteria to enter the root area.

Once plaque invades the inside of a tooth, it exposes the nerves of the tooth to air, liquid, and food and produces sharp pains in the mouth. Eventually, the tooth degrades to the point of breakage. The bacteria can also enter the gums and cause an abscess, which is an infection of the gums that can be serious for some people.

A secondary cause of tooth decay is poor dental hygiene habits. Since bacteria can be removed if it's done soon after eating, brushing and flossing after eating is an easy way to avoid cavities. Other causes of tooth decay involve factors that can weaken tooth enamel and make it easier for bacteria to break down the tooth. For instance, some people are prone to vomiting. The stomach acid can leach away at the enamel. Heartburn with belching and acid reflux can also harm your tooth enamel. Other factors that can affect the health of your enamel include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Certain medications
  • Lack of fluoride
  • Diets high in sugar and carbohydrates

How to Combat Tooth Decay

Speak to your dentist if you are prone to cavities and find out what you can do to protect your teeth from the ravages of plaque and things that damage your enamel. Your dentist might suggest:

  • Sealants that can be applied to protect your teeth.
  • Fluoride treatments for those who don't get enough in their water supply.
  • Speaking to your doctor about ways to cope with acid reflux and vomiting disorders.
  • Switching to medications that are not as harmful to your tooth enamel.
  • Doubling up on your cleaning visits to keep the plaque removed.
  • Dental scaling to remove plaque from under the gum areas.

To learn more about dealing with decay, speak to your family dentist.