The Biggest Risk Factors for Cavities

Are you worried about getting cavities? Here, we’ll give you the lowdown on all things tooth decay, including the biggest risk factors for cavities.

girl looking in the mirror brushing her teeth to avoid cavities

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is tooth decay caused by bacteria that produces enamel destroying acid. When the bacteria and acid reach the next layer of the tooth, the dentin, tooth decay begins to develop. While you may think of cavities as dark spots or holes that you can see in your teeth, cavities are often not really detectable or visible by sight alone. Cavities won’t really start to hurt until they have progressed to a severe degree.

What Causes Cavities?

The bad bacteria in your mouth builds up on teeth in a sticky clear film called plaque that is most prone to form between your teeth, near your gum line, around dental fillings or bridgework, and in the grooves and pits in the teeth in the back of your mouth. This plaque buildup is also due to lots of starches and sugars that are leftover from the food you’ve eaten. If you’re not cleaning your teeth well, the food particles are left on your teeth and bacteria feed on them to form plaque. Plaque that is not removed can also harden into tartar, which is much harder to remove than plaque. The acids in the plaque then weaken your enamel by removing minerals so that tiny holes open up in the enamel. As tooth decay progresses, the bacteria and acid move through your dentin to the inner tooth pulp, causing more severe cavities and pain.

What Are the Biggest Risk Factors for Cavities?

There are a number of risk factors for cavities that increase your risk of getting tooth decay. Some of the biggest risk factors include a diet high in sugar and carbs, if you have a lot of pits and grooves in your back teeth, a frequent snacking habit, poor brushing, lack of fluoride, age (older people are more prone to cavities), if you are pregnant, if you feed your infant at night, worn fillings or dental devices, eating disorders, dry mouth, and even heartburn.

How Do You Prevent Cavities?

One of the best ways to prevent cavities is by practicing good oral health care everyday which includes brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, flossing at least once a day, and brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. You should also eat a diet low in sugar and carbs and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Drink lots of water to wash away any food particles and avoid snacking. Talk to your dentist to ensure that you’re getting enough fluoride, as well.

Another vital part of preventing cavities is to see your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups, so give us a call today to schedule an appointment!

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Helotes Family Dentistry

Helotes Family Dentistry