We all know the drill: brush and floss daily and visit the dentist regularly. So why do some people still get cavities, even when they take good care of their teeth? The answer isn’t always simple, but there are a few factors that can contribute to an increased risk of cavities

In last month’s blog post, we learned what a cavity is, the three main types of cavities, and how to tell if a cavity is forming. Today’s post will consider four common cavity causers and how our genetics affect our teeth.

4 Most Common Cavity Causers

There are a few reasons some people are more susceptible to cavities than others. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common causes:

Genetics: Tooth enamel protects your teeth from cavities, and the thickness of your enamel is determined by genetics. If you have thin or soft enamel (outer coating), you’re more susceptible to cavities because the bacteria in plaque can more easily penetrate your teeth and reach the inner layer called dentin. There’s not much you can do about your genetics, but if you have thin enamel, be extra diligent about taking care of your teeth by brushing and flossing regularly and eating a tooth-friendly diet. You may also need to see your dentist more often for professional cleanings and fluoride treatments.

Poor Oral Hygiene: This one might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning because poor oral hygiene is the number one cause of cavities and tooth decay. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth, and if it’s not removed through brushing and flossing, it can lead to decay. So be sure to brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and floss once a day!

Diet: The foods and drinks that you consume play a big role in your oral health. If you consume lots of sugary foods, you’re putting yourself at greater risk for cavities. Sugar provides fuel for the bacteria in plaque, which can then lead to tooth decay. Acidic foods can also erode the enamel on your teeth, making them more susceptible to decay. So be sure to limit sugary and acidic foods in your diet and include plenty of crunchy fruits and vegetables (which help clean your teeth as you eat them) and dairy products (which contain calcium that strengthens your teeth). 
Dry Mouth: Saliva is important for keeping your mouth healthy because saliva washes away food particles and plaque bacteria. If you have dry mouth, there’s not enough saliva in your mouth to perform these functions effectively, which raises your risk for cavities. Dry mouth can be caused by certain medications, medical conditions, or simply not drinking enough water throughout the day. Tobacco use  can also contribute to dry mouth.  If you think you might have dry mouth, talk to your dentist or doctor about possible treatments.

Preventing Cavities

There are a few preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk of cavities:

Dental sealants: Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars), where most cavities occur. Sealants protect the teeth by filling in the grooves and pits on the molar surface, making it difficult for plaque bacteria to adhere to the tooth. The American Dental Association recommends sealants for children and teens, but they can also be beneficial for adults.

Fluoride: Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent cavities. It is found in many different products, including toothpaste, mouthwash, and fluoride treatments at the dentist’s office.
Regular dental visits: Regular dental checkups are important for preventing cavities because your dentist can identify early signs of decay and treat them before they become more serious. Early detection is key to preventing cavities! Untreated cavities can lead to pain, infection, and tooth loss. So be sure to see your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and exam!

Leaving Cavities Untreated

Cavities are progressive, meaning they will continue to get worse over time if left untreated. The longer you wait to see a dentist, the more damage will be done to your teeth. Cavities start out small and only involve the outer layer of tooth enamel. But if they’re not treated, they can spread to the inner layers of your teeth and eventually reach the root. A root canal may be necessary to save the tooth if the decay is left untreated for too long. 

Cavities can also lead to pain and infection. The bacteria from cavities can enter the pulp of your tooth, causing a severe infection. This bacterial infection can lead to a tooth abscess, which is a pus-filled sac that forms around the tooth. A tooth abscess can be extremely painful and may require antibiotics or even surgery to treat.

Your Dentist in Denver

Although cavities are largely preventable, they are a fact of life for many of us. While we can’t always control whether we get cavities, there are things we can do to reduce our risk. By taking good care of our teeth and following a healthy diet, we can keep cavities at bay!

If it’s been a while since your last dental cleaning, schedule an appointment at Dewitt Dental Associates today! We are your local Cherry Creek Dentist, located 3300 E. 1st Ave. Suite 615 in Denver, Co. We welcome patients from Cherry Creek, Englewood, and all surrounding Metro communities. To book an appointment, call (303) 321-5656 or complete the online booking form.

Categories: General Dentistry