What’s Causing My Cavities?

Cavities are your mouth’s way of telling you that you’re not doing something right — whether you’re not brushing the right places, the right way or eating the wrong foods, cavities are lasting, sometimes painful spots on teeth caused by tooth decay. The worst part about cavities is they’re permanent — once they’re there, you have to get a tooth filled, and prolonging treatment could lead to a necessary root canal. Some patients experience fairly regular cavities, and there could be underlying causes to this, whether it’s bad habits or poor genes. We list off some typical causes of cavities so that you can take the first step to a healthier mouth — prevention.

1) Sugary Foods: Eating an excessive amount of sugary foods and drinks, even with regular brushing, can cause plaque buildup and destruction of enamel. Within about 20 seconds of putting sugary foods in your mouth, bacteria have covered it in acid, the beginning of the destructive process. Taking care to rinse the mouth with water after every meal and adjusting your eating habits to eliminate or cut back on sugary snacks will help prevent cavities.

2) Acidic Foods: Foods like citrus and sodas directly affect tooth enamel — instead of attracting the bacteria that produce acid and begin decay, they eliminate this middle man and let their acids directly affect your teeth. Once again, water or mouthwash after these types of meals could prevent cavities. It also makes sense not to eat these damaging foods before bedtime, as our mouth produces significantly less saliva while we sleep, allowing bad acids and sugars to stick to our teeth and erode them throughout the night.

3) Genetics: You can’t help everything! From how straight your teeth are to if your wisdom teeth will be impacted, many of our oral facts and figures are determined by genetics. Your genes determine the toughness of your enamel, which is why people with good brushing habits can still develop regular cavities. Talk to your dentist about strengthening your enamel with certain mouthwashes and toothpastes, and maybe invest in brushing more often and changing your diet.

4) Poor Hygiene: The leading cause of cavities is typically poor dental hygiene. This is obvious, but is often overlooked. Brushing regularly, flossing at least once a day, and regular dental checkups are all parts of good dental hygiene. Just brushing before bed isn’t “good” hygiene, whether your breath is fresh or not. By creating healthy habits for your teeth now, you can prevent running into problems later. Remember, once enamel is gone, it’s gone forever.

5) Age and Other Disorders: As we age, our bodies change and, typically, health deteriorates and becomes harder maintain. This is true for our teeth as well. As we age, we produce less saliva, which offers less protection for our teeth, as well as receding gum lines due to gum disease and other oral issues. This leaves our teeth open for destructive plaque. Many medications for health conditions reduce saliva as well, getting rid of our first defense against bacteria. Those with heartburn or acid reflux disorders can also develop cavities due to acid buildup in the back of the throat, leading into the mouth.

Our best defense against cavities is always brushing and flossing, but we should also be mindful about what we’re putting into our bodies, as well as medications we’re taking and our lifestyles. If you’re experiencing consistent cavities and need to see a dentist, Greenspoint Dental offers cavity and cleaning services, as well as restorative dentistry for patients with critical mouth needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.