It’s no secret that cavities aren’t good for your oral health, so it’s important to understand what exactly causes cavities in teeth so you can do your best to avoid them. A cavity, also known as tooth decay, is a hole that forms in your tooth. They often start off small but can grow larger if left untreated, which can cause a number of different problems for your teeth and overall oral health. Cavities are extremely common, as anyone with teeth can develop them, so learning what causes cavities and what you can do to help prevent them is always a good idea.
We’ve highlighted some of the common causes of cavities in teeth and what you can do to help prevent tooth decay from affecting your overall oral health.
What Causes Cavities in Teeth: Common Symptoms
Because cavities can range in size, depending on how long they’ve been left untreated, there are several different symptoms that can be a sign that you have a cavity. One of the most common symptoms is general tooth pain, which will typically intensify the longer that a cavity is left untreated. You might also notice tooth sensitivity, or pain when eating or drinking hot, cold, or sweet things. Cavities might also be visible on your teeth, often appearing as small holes or pits, or as black, white, or brown stains on the teeth.
What Causes Tooth Cavities?
There are several different things that can all contribute to and cause cavities. When certain foods, such as carbohydrates or sweets, stay on your teeth, they can cause decay. The bacteria in your mouth turns them into acids, which can dissolve the enamel on your teeth, causing cavities. Some of the most common causes of cavities include:
- Consuming food and drinks that are more likely to stick to your teeth and cause decay
- Poor oral hygiene, such as bad brushing technique or lack of brushing
- Lack of fluoride
- Dry mouth
- Acid reflux, which forces stomach acid into your mouth and can wear down your teeth
The great news about cavities is that they are treatable, the most common treatment option being a filling. With dental fillings, your dentist will fill the hole created by the cavity with a filling made of porcelain or a composite resin. In some cases, depending on the severity of the cavity, you may require a crown or root canal. A crown is typically made of porcelain and is fitted over your tooth to replace the parts that were decayed, while a root canal is typically done if the root or pulp of your tooth is dead or injured beyond repair.
What You Can Do to Prevent Cavities
Cavities are a common dental problem, but they can be prevented! Proper oral hygiene, which includes brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once a day can both help to remove any sticky plaque from your teeth and remove other loose food particles from between your teeth. Also, steering clear of sugary and acidic foods, and limiting the amount of snacking you do between meals can also help to reduce your risk of cavities.
Cavities are a common occurrence amongst many people, but better understanding what cavities are, what causes them, and what can be done to prevent them can help you maintain your oral health and have a smile you are proud of!