What Causes Cavities?

The most common issue in oral health is cavities. Just how do cavities start to form on your teeth? While there are a few common and widely known, causes for cavities, a few situations may surprise you.

The first way a cavity can form is due to oral disorders and diseases. These disorders are rare and affect only a small percentage of the population. Some of the more common diseases cause insufficient amounts of enamel to form on the teeth. When this happens, the tooth is much more susceptible to cavities, bacteria, and other issues.

Speaking of bacteria, this is quite possibly the most common way a cavity can form. The mouth contains a wide variety of oral bacteria, but only a few bacterial strains can lead to dental problems. These strains will collect around the teeth and gum line in what is commonly referred to as plaque. The problem with this build up is that the bacteria produce acid when you eat a meal or a snack. This acid then eats away at your teeth, thus causing cavities, or worse, to form.

The most common cause for this acid production comes from the abundant use of sugar in various foods. Highly sugary sweets, drinks, and packaged foods cause the bacteria to have a heyday in their acid production. This acid then eats away at your teeth. If left unchecked, cavities and diseases like gingivitis can take root in your mouth.

Finally, cavities just come with time and age. Your teeth do a lot of work over years of use, and this causes them to slowly weaken as you get older. As your teeth weaken, they become more susceptible to bacteria, and thus cavities become a growing concern.

So what can you do to keep your teeth healthy? The first item is to watch your diet. Eating whole foods and drinking water are a great way to not only keep your body healthy but also promote a healthy smile. Another trick is to chew a sugarless gum after each meal. Gum chewing not only helps to pull food out of the nooks and crannies of your mouth, but it also stimulates saliva production, which happens to be your body’s natural bacteria fighting agent. Lastly, if you use tobacco products, particularly smokeless tobacco, consider quitting. Some smokeless tobacco products contain sugar to help increase flavor. When this is held against the teeth and gums for prolonged periods, major dental issues can form in the gums and roots of your teeth.

The best way to keep your mouth healthy is to see your dentist on a regular basis. If cavities are left untreated, they can go from a minor issue to a major oral nightmare.

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