Getting a cavity isn’t something you enjoy experiencing, and yet, it happens to almost everyone at least once. When you think about tooth decay, you might picture rotting teeth or someone with no teeth at all, and while those are extreme examples of tooth decay, the reality is a lot more common than you think. Cavities are considered the most common form of tooth decay. So, what causes tooth decay and cavities? And what can you do to prevent it from happening to you?
In the simplest sense, tooth decay is caused by bacteria. The bacteria in your mouth, if left alone, continue to multiply and eat away at your teeth until cavities are formed. However, there are plenty of reasons why these bacteria flourish in your mouth. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons for this.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Perhaps the most common reason behind tooth decay is poor oral hygiene. If you don’t brush or floss your teeth on a regular basis, you’re creating the ideal environment for cavities. The bacteria in your mouth will grow alarmingly fast if you don’t keep your mouth clean. The more bacteria in your mouth, the faster your teeth will decay. To prevent this, brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. It’s also helpful if you rinse your mouth with mouthwash and visit your dentist on a regular basis.
If your diet is full of sugary foods, you’re creating the ideal environment for cavity-causing bacteria to grow. And sugary foods doesn’t just mean candy. There are plenty of foods that are high in “hidden” sugars. Other foods have high acidity content, which can actively break down the enamel covering your teeth. While it may be impossible to avoid these kinds of foods altogether, it’s important that you limit yourself. Your teeth will thank you.
Age and Genetics
As you get older, the normal bodily health you have experienced your whole life begins to disappear. This is the same with your teeth. Your gums start to recede with older age and any improper hygiene habits you’ve kept throughout your life tend to catch up, as well. Genetics can also play a role in tooth decay. Many people are born with enamel issues or deep crevices in their teeth, which encourage tooth decay.
Saliva plays a very important role in your oral health. Your saliva contains a variety of enzymes that break down bacteria that cause cavities in your mouth. So, if you have dry mouth, you can expect to experience a higher rate of tooth decay. Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of factors, and your dentist can help you in that area, if you need it.
See Your Dentist
At the end of the day, the best way to prevent tooth decay and cavities is by seeing your dentist on a regular basis. Regular dental checkups foster good oral hygiene and enable your dentist to identify issues that you may not be able to see on your own.