The Top 5 Things That Cause Cavities

Our entire lives,we’ve been told that cavities are bad and that we need to brush and floss in order to prevent them from occurring. We’ve also been told that sugar is bad for our teeth and should be limited if we want to keep our teeth healthy. However, do we actually know why we do these things? Often times, dental routines are instilled in us at a young age so we never question the why. 

Things That Cause Cavities, TN

Simply stated, the “why” is to address the causes of cavities. A large part of preventative care is understanding what causes cavities so that the “why” of preventative care becomes evident. To help and your family understand why dental care is so important, here are five things that cause cavities: 

  1. Bacteria
    Both gum disease and tooth decay are caused by bacteria. Our mouths naturally contain bacteria called streptococcus mutans. Although bacteria is naturally-occuring, it can still cause problems if there is no population control for the number of bacteria in our mouths. Each bacterium feeds on food scraps and then emits an acidic waste product. When large amounts of bacteria reside in the same area, this results in multiple acid attacks on the teeth. This acid will eventually erode the tooth enamel and cause a dental cavity.
  2. Sugars
    Sugars are bacteria’s most preferred food choice and the bacteria in your mouth feed predominantly on sugars from food and beverages. In as little as 15 minutes after eating, bacteria can consume, digest, and excrete the sugars from your meal. Once again, if this happens often in a particular area, the result is eroded enamel that can lead to a cavity.
  3. Plaque
    Plaque serves as an ideal habitat for bacteria to live, eat, and thrive. It is colorless film that is found on the surface of your enamel, not to be confused with tartar, which is much harder. As a general rule, the more plaque your teeth have, the higher your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.
  4. Parafunction
    Parafunction is the term used to describe any abnormal function that the teeth are not intended for. One popular parafunction that has been identified as a cause of cavity is teeth grinding and clenching. This is because both clenching and grinding your teeth can cause the enamel to become worn, making it easier for bacteria to erode.
  5. Certain Medical Conditions
    Certain medical conditions may pose a threat to your overall and oral health. For example, acid reflux disorder may prematurely wear down your enamel or diabetes can increase the risk of gum disease. Additionally, certain medicals used to treat medical conditions can also have harmful dental side effects. One example of this is dry mouth. Saliva is essential for keeping you healthy by managing the amount of bacteria in your mouth.

Overall, bacteria, sugar, plaque, grinding and clenching and certain medical conditions have been found to lead to dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay. In understanding the top five things that cause cavities, we hope to inspire better dental habits that lead to fewer cavities. If you are interested in learning more about how to keep your teeth healthy, see our article on “The Top 5 Ways to Prevent Cavities”. 

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Dr. Micheal Costa

Dr. Costa

Dr. Stephen Malone

Dr. Malone

Knoxville Smiles at Malone & Costa Dentistry offers a unique dental care experience to our patients in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the surrounding areas. The crew is committed to protecting and increasing the natural beauty of your smile by employing conservative, cutting-edge techniques that result in attractive, long-lasting smiles!

Our dedicated and experienced team of doctors includes Dr. Stephen Malone, D.M.D., University of Louisville, and Dr. Michael Costa, D.D.S., UNC School of Dentistry, M.H.A., UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill, NC. They are firm believers in continuing education to provide their patients with the finest possible care.

Drs. Costa and Malone see their patients as real partners in their service. Our team is committed to making your dental care journey as pleasant as possible.

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