Cavities are areas of a tooth that have decayed because of the work of certain bacteria in the mouth. Although tooth decay is commonly associated with eating sugary foods, there are other conditions that can increase the possibility of tooth decay. Here are five important factors that can put you at a greater risk of having cavities.
1. Oral Bacteria
Generally, cavities occur when certain strains of bacteria accumulate on your tooth and feed on remnants of the sugar and carbohydrates that you eat. This process creates acids which react with the calcium-based enamel covering of the teeth and create porous areas which eventually become cavities. The volume of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth is one of most prominent factors that determines how fast you can develop cavities in your teeth.
2. Your Diet
The bacteria that cause cavities feed on sugar or carbohydrates to stay alive and multiply. Similarly, acidic foods and drinks can react with the calcium in the enamel and erode it. Increasing the level of acidity in the mouth can also make it more difficult for the saliva to restore the pH balance in the mouth. Reducing the consumption of sweets, chocolates and other sugary foods that leave residues on the teeth as well as acidic drinks can help to control the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth.
3. The Level of Dental Hygiene
Brushing your teeth correctly early in the morning and just before going to bed would reduce the risk of having cavities. Brushing and flossing dislodges trapped food particles and the plaque developed by oral bacteria. When plaque is not removed by proper brushing it can form a much harder and thicker substance called tartar. Removing tartar usually requires the help of a dentist. In addition, it is important to change your toothbrush regularly and use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Dentists recommend that you change out your toothbrush at least once every three months.
4. Dryness in the Mouth
A dry mouth can make the mouth cavity more acidic and promote tooth decay. Dryness in the mouth is frequently caused by inadequate flow of saliva. It may also be due to the use of medications and chemotherapy. However, when the saliva in the mouth is adequate, the minerals in it can neutralize the effect of excess acidity and even help to rebuild the enamel. To reduce dryness in the mouth, you should drink more water or use a mouth rinse with enamel-fortifying ingredients.
5. The Shape of Your Teeth
In many cases, tooth decay and cavities develop more in the large teeth at the back of the mouth. The premolars and molars are more prone to decay because of the tiny irregularities on their biting surface. These areas normally trap sugar, fiber and leftover food that serves as nutrition for bacteria. That is why it is very important to spend more time brushing the biting surface using a toothbrush with medium-hard bristles. However, the size of the fissures on these teeth differ based on genetics.
These are some of the most critical factors that increase the possibility of developing cavities and tooth decay. With proper dental care, you can reduce the impact of these risk factors and keep your teeth healthy for the rest of your life.
If you have any questions or concerns about your children’s teeth or are wondering whether or not you or your children may be more prone to cavities, give Dr. Mott a call. We can schedule a cleaning or checkup for you and answer any questions you may have.