There is a protective layer around your tooth called the enamel. This outer layer prevents bacteria from damaging the nerves and connective tissue within the tooth. However, your enamel is not invincible. Acid and wear can erode your enamel, increasing your risk for several dental problems.
If you know how to prevent cavities, you may save yourself pain and money down the road.
What Causes Cavities and How to Prevent Them
Luckily, there are several ways to avoid cavities.
Poor Oral Hygiene
One of the most common causes of tooth decay is poor oral health. When we eat, bacteria in our mouth convert the sugars and starches in the food into acids. These acids can eat away at the enamel, leading to the formation of cavities. If you don’t brush or floss your teeth regularly, you can increase your risk of developing tooth decay. Regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash can help to remove the bacteria and food particles that cause cavities.
Another common cause of cavities is a diet high in sugary and starchy foods. Foods like candy, soda, and pastries can create an acidic environment in the mouth, leading to tooth decay. Limiting your sugary and starchy food intake can help prevent cavities from forming. Additionally, you could swap sugary foods for some healthy snack options.
Dry mouth is another common cause of cavities. Saliva helps to neutralize the acids in the mouth. When we have a dry mouth, there is less saliva to protect the teeth. As a result, you have a higher risk of developing cavities. Various factors, including medications, certain medical conditions, and dehydration, can cause dry mouth. Drinking plenty of water and using products like sugar-free gum or lozenges can help to stimulate saliva production and prevent cavities.
Another cause of cavities is acid reflux. When stomach acid flows back into the mouth, it can erode the enamel, leading to cavities. People with acid reflux should talk to their dentist about ways to protect their teeth, such as using fluoride or avoiding acidic foods.
Tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, can also cause cavities. When we grind our teeth, the tooth enamel can wear down, exposing the dentin layer, which is more susceptible to decay. Additionally, tooth grinding can cause tiny fractures in the teeth that can trap bacteria and lead to cavities. To protect the teeth from wear and tear, it is essential to wear a nightguard. This can also reduce your risk of tooth decay.
Finally, genetics can also play a role in the development of cavities. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to weaker enamel, making them more susceptible to cavities. Regular dental checkups and cleanings can help to catch cavities early and prevent further damage to the teeth.