A Center For Family Dentistry

Keep Your Smile Healthy: Knowing How Cavities Form

June 17, 2014 — by Keith Kelley, DDS
Tags: Restorative Dentistry Dental Fillings

A woman undergoing dental check-upMost of us are taught from an early age that eating too much candy can lead to cavities, but if you think you're safe from cavities because you don't eat candy, think again. Though sweets do play a role in cavity formation, there are other factors that can result in tooth decay and lead to painful toothaches, abscesses, and even tooth loss. Fortunately, general dentistry treatments can help prevent tooth decay and even treat cavities that may have already formed. Treatments like dental fillings and root canal therapy are offered to our Troy patients to restore the health and strength of decaying teeth. Though there are treatments to restore oral health, preventing tooth decay is ideal. You can help reduce your risk of tooth decay by knowing the causes of cavity formation.

The Causes of Cavity Formation

Dental cavities are a form of tooth decay largely caused by plaque and tartar buildup, as well as dental exposure to acidic foods and drinks. Plaque and tartar, the calcified form of plaque, are made up of saliva, food particles, bacteria, and the big culprit of decay - acid from bacterial digestion. Plaque and tartar stick to the teeth, allowing acids from the bacteria to erode the enamel. This is one of the reasons it is so important to practice proper oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing helps remove plaque, prevent tartar buildup, and reduce cavities. 

The foods we eat and drink can also cause dental cavities. One reason sugary foods like candies and frosted cakes can increase the risk of cavity formation is that bacteria on our teeth love to eat sugar. The more sugar you eat, the more sugar is left on your teeth for the bacteria to thrive on. This leads to more plaque bacteria and more acid production from bacterial digestion. Acidic foods can also cause decay. Eating an abundance of citrus fruits and drinking soft drinks can also erode the tooth's enamel, making the teeth more vulnerable to cavity formation.

Preventing Cavities

Preventing cavities begins with practicing good oral hygiene habits along with reducing consumption of sugary, acidic foods and drinks. Here are some tips to help you reduce your risk of developing cavities and keeping your teeth healthy for years to come.

  • Practice Proper Oral Hygiene: Proper oral hygiene is essential to preventing cavities and other oral health issues like gum disease. Proper oral hygiene includes brushing at least twice a day for a full two minutes each. While brushing, it is important to pay attention to the gum line and the back teeth. Flossing is also vital to oral health and should be done at least once a day. Make sure you floss all the way down the gum line and on each side of every tooth.
  • See Your Dentist for Regular Check-ups and Cleanings: Seeing your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings can help catch cavity formation at its earliest stages, and keep your teeth free of tartar buildup.
  • Avoid Sugary, Acidic Foods: Sugary, acidic foods can increase tooth erosion and cavity formation. Avoid eating or drinking these types of foods to reduce your risk to acid erosion.
  • Chew Sugar-free Gum After Meals: Chewing sugar-free gum after meals, in between brushing, can help remove food particles from the teeth and reduce plaque. It also helps increase saliva production, because saliva helps wash away food particles from the mouth.
  • Drink Plenty of Water: Drinking water helps flush away food and neutralize acids in the mouth. Drinking water with meals, even swishing the water around the teeth, can help remove unwanted particles and reduce cavity formation.

Seek Cavity Treatment

If you suffer from cavities, it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible to maintain a healthy smile. To find out more information about cavity treatment or prevention, we welcome you contact our office today!

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