Dental cavities are holes in the teeth caused by tooth decay. The protective enamel gets worn away, leaving the core of the tooth exposed. Once plaque builds up on your teeth as you eat, it can begin to cause tooth decay in as little as 20 minutes.
Other causes can also contribute to the emergence of cavities, or make your teeth more prone to getting them.
1. Insufficient oral hygiene.
The quickest way to welcome cavities is to slack on dental care. Not brushing or flossing regularly, and not using mouthwash or brushing your tongue will leave your teeth vulnerable to decay. Brushing your teeth for less than two minutes each time can also lead to cavities.
2. Poor nutrition.
What you eat matters. If you are consuming lots of sugary foods and drinks or a diet high in starches, you are filling your mouth with sugars that bacteria can feed off. Highly acidic foods also contribute to tooth decay by weakening the enamel.
3. Deep tooth crevices and enamel issues.
For teeth that naturally have weak enamel, it is even easier to damage the outer layer. Teeth with inherently deep crevices are harder to clean well, which allows plaque more room to grow.
4. Dry mouth problems.
Lysozyme is an enzyme present in your saliva that naturally inhibits the growth of plaque. Excessive dryness of the mouth decreases the presence of this preventative enzyme, limiting its ability to fight bacteria and leading to tooth decay.
5. Teeth grinding.
Many people don’t realize that they grind their teeth, as it often happens while they are asleep. Grinding teeth together strips them of their enamel, which leaves them more prone to decay. Should you need it, a dentist can recommend a bite guard for you to wear at night.
Some people are simply more prone to tooth decay due to an inherited susceptibility. While there is nothing you can do to specifically address this cause, you can be more vigilant in your dental hygiene to minimize the problem.
7. Change in routine.
Any new lifestyle factors, such as diet, stress, a new job, a new home, or starting school, can affect your oral hygiene habits. Immune responses affect the whole body, so any new factors can cause dry mouth, boost cravings, or cause inflammation.
There is such a thing as brushing too hard with too rough of a brush. Be gentle and don’t rush as you brush to avoid cutting away your tooth enamel and allowing decay to reach deeper into the tooth.
9. Gum recession.
As your gums pull back, it exposes more of the tooth–even to the root–leaving a greater area of the tooth susceptible to decay.
10. Avoiding the dentist.
It’s true, avoiding the dentist stops him or her from catching your tooth decay early on, or noticing problem behaviors that can lead to cavities. You should visit the dentist every six months for a routine checkup and deep cleaning, during which time your dentist can discuss any issues and help prevent further problems.
Prevention is the best approach to cavities, so consider each of these common causes of cavities and ask your dentist how you can boost the healthiness of your teeth.