Cavity. It’s the word we all dread hearing when we’re at the dentist’s office. Unfortunately, the average person tends to have one or more cavities develop in their lifetime.
There are all kinds of habits and behaviors that add to the risk of getting cavities, from eating sugary foods to neglecting to brush and floss.
What Are Cavities?
Let’s start with what a cavity really is.
Cavities develop when a tooth starts to decay, causing a hole to form in the tooth.
Over time, the hole often grows larger and deeper, causing pain and discomfort. Cavities are also known as dental caries.
How Do Cavities Develop?
Cavities develop due to plaque caused by bacteria.
When bacteria builds up in your mouth, so does plaque.
Plaque is the whitish, gooey substance found on the surface of teeth, and is made up of bacterias that cause tooth decay and cavities.
These bacteria are acidic and eat away at your teeth.
Below, we’d like to go over 25 things that put you at risk for cavities. It is true that you can take very good care of your teeth and still get a cavity, but it is a very small chance with proper care.
Top 24 Reasons Behind Cavities
1. Poor Nutrition
One of the biggest causes of cavities is poor nutrition.
It isn’t just about avoiding processed, sugary and acidic foods, it’s about eating healthy too.
If you aren’t getting the right vitamins you need throughout the day, your diet isn’t balanced, or you’re often dehydrated, you may be more vulnerable to cavities.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet helps to ensure your teeth stay strong, clean, and cavity-free.
Try your best to eat foods that are healthy for your teeth too including celery, carrots, apples, dairy products, whole grains, and more. It’s important to keep oral health in mind when deciding what to eat.
2. Avoiding The Dentist
It’s recommended that you visit the dentist twice a year in regular circumstances.
If you have braces, crowns, fillings, or need dental surgery, these appointments may need to be more frequent.
It’s common to avoid going to the dentist for many reasons, ranging from anxiety to poor time management. But, it’s important to visit the dentist frequently for cleanings and checkups.
Avoiding the dentist is bad for your health.
The sooner your dentist can catch something like a cavity, the less the damage will be. Not to mention that more frequent dental appointments can save you more money in the long run by treating conditions early, which costs less.
3. Sugary Foods and Beverages
Sugary treats. Many individuals enjoy sugary foods and beverages regularly, especially when it comes to soda and other carbonated beverages.
Sugar is naturally occurring in fruits and other food products, but artificial sugars tend to do more damage and cause cavities.
To preserve your teeth, it isn’t just about cutting out sugars.
As we know, sugar still naturally occurs in many healthy foods, and treats are okay in moderation.
What you need to do to protect your teeth is to try to reduce the amount of processed sugar in your diet and remember to rinse between meals and after snacks.
4. Acidic Foods
Just like sugar, acidic foods are big culprits when it comes to increasing your risk of having cavities.
Acids in foods can break down tooth enamel, which leaves teeth unprotected and vulnerable to germs. In turn, this may lead to cavities.
With acidic foods, you should watch how many foods you eat in a day that are acidic, and try to add more foods with base compositions to your diet, such as pears.
Base foods can help to neutralize acids, just like water. You should also rinse between eating acidic foods to protect your enamel from damage.
5. Not Getting Enough Fluoride
Fluoride is one of the most effective, natural substances that protect tooth enamel from decay and strengthen teeth. Fluoride is often found in water, but not always.
If none of the beverages and foods that you regularly eat during a day have fluoride, you may want to consider supplementing some into your diet. However, most city tap water sources have enough fluoride in them to be sufficient in protecting teeth from decay.
6. Deep Tooth Crevices
Deep tooth crevices occur when the teeth, especially the molars, have deep grooves wherein food, bacteria, and plaque can get trapped.
Teeth that are structured this way are more difficult to brush, thus preventing complete cleaning.
To help manage this, you can decide on a toothbrush with longer bristles.
Longer bristles will help you to reach all the nooks and crannies of your teeth, cleaning away plaque and food.
You can find longer bristles on some manual toothbrushes and replaceable toothbrush heads for both electric and battery powered brushes.
The fact of the matter is, if your family has poor dental health, there’s a higher chance you will too.
It’ not just about habits, it’s about genetics.
Your family may be prone to having more brittle teeth that are prone to fracture, of softer teeth that are more vulnerable to decay.
Genetics can influence anything from genetic abnormalities in teeth to having more bacteria in your mouth depending on the chemical composition in your mouth.
A few genetic tooth problems that make individuals more vulnerable to cavities include cleft lip or palate, anodontia/hypodontia, Amelogenesis Imperfecta, Dentinogenesis, Periodontal Disease, Oral Cancer and more.
Your dentist may recommend antibacterial or fluoride treatments to help fight cavities as well if you are genetically more vulnerable to tooth decay.
8. Large Fillings
Having a few fillings are fine, but larger fillings may pose a risk to your teeth.
The problem with many larger fillings in the mouth is that they may interfere with your other teeth and allow bacteria to be trapped under and in between fillings.
Once bacteria gets between a filling and the tooth, it’s nearly impossible to brush them away or clean and may cause cavities, which cause pain and discomfort. In which case, the filling would need to be redone.
9. Tooth Grinding
Tooth grinding is often identified as a nervous habit that many people may not even realize they have because it’s often done in one’s sleep.
The underlying cause of this habit is often stress or anxiety, but poor jaw alignment and missing teeth may also be the reason for grinding.
The problem with grinding your teeth is that your enamel wears down, which challenges the integrity of your teeth and may leave mini features on your teeth, opening them up to bacteria that cause tooth decay and cavities.
For grinding during the day, identifying the underlying cause including stress or dental issues is necessary. However, for nighttime grinding, nighttime mouth guards or bite guards work very well to protect your teeth.
Age isn’t always golden, especially when it comes to oral health.
As you age, your teeth and bones tend to lose dentistry and get weaker, causing your teeth to be more vulnerable to acidic bacteria that cause cavities.
Also, oral hygiene sometimes becomes more difficult with age, which also influences individual susceptibility to cavities.
In addition, gums tend to recede with age, sometimes exposing the root of the tooth, allowing bacteria another way to attack your teeth.
You should supplement more calcium into your diet as your age and keep up oral hygiene in order to strengthen and protect your teeth.
Also, as you age, you may need to visit your dentist more often to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy, and so that your dentist can in some cases recommend changes to your hygiene habits and even your diet to keep your teeth in good health and prevent cavities.
11. Dry Mouth Issues
Dry mouth can be caused by many factors, including age and many medications.
Many medications cause dry mouth issues, inhibiting saliva production in the mouth.
Saliva is important for keeping teeth clean and neutralizing both bacteria and acids. Unfortunately, medical side effects are difficult to prevent, but keeping extra hydrated helps to treat dry mouth.
Your dentist will be able to assess dry mouth and help you to prevent tooth decay due to dry mouth.
12. Nursing Too Long
Prolonged nursing beyond a year to two years without weaning can make children more susceptible to cavities in the long run.
Most research points to bottle feeding being worse for increasing the risk of cavities.
However, breastfeeding also has some evidence of increased susceptibility to cavities in the future.
Breastfeeding and bottle feeding has been linked to tooth decay because breastmilk is high in sugar, and can often pool and sit in the infant’s mouth, allowing bacteria to form and eat away at enamel.
13. Chemotherapy And Radiation
Chemotherapy and radiation are life-saving treatments for cancer patients. However, both come with some severe side effects, including increasing your risk of cavities.
Chemo and radiation make you more vulnerable to infections, dry mouth, swelling gums, and more. All of which make teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay bacteria.
Besides keeping up your oral hygiene, you should also visit the dentist more often to make sure your teeth are healthy if you are currently in chemotherapy or radiation.
They may make alterations to the way you practice oral hygiene in order to keep cavities away.
Both physical and mental physical disabilities can make it more difficult to keep good oral hygiene.
With physical disabilities, it can be difficult to do things including brushing, flossing, and rinsing.
Same goes for mental disabilities.
Also, in some cases, caregivers may not pay enough attention to those under their care, in regards to oral hygiene and care.
15. Dental Anxiety
Phobias are uncontrollable and irrational fears that sometimes develop over time, or develop suddenly.
If you have dental phobia or anxiety, there’s a good chance that you try to avoid the dentist whenever possible, due to discomfort and fear.
Therapy can help this fear, and learning more about why you’re afraid of the dentist helps as well.
However, it’s always important to visit the dentist, otherwise, cavities and other underlying issues can go undetected, making them more difficult to treat when they are detected later on.
16. Being Poor
Those with lower socioeconomic status tend to have more issues with tooth decay for many reasons.
This is because the cost of dental care can sometimes be too high, there isn’t always access to dental care or insurance, and sometimes those who have lower incomes have less access to the proper tools for dental care including toothbrushes and toothpaste.
There are some programs for children from low-income families in different parts of the world, but often, adults have less coverage for dental care, leaving them vulnerable to tooth decay.
Sometimes health clinics will offer free toothbrushes and toothpaste as well, helping those without access to those necessities.
17. Drug And Alcohol Abuse
Both drugs and alcohol pose great risks to teeth and gums.
Hard drugs like methamphetamine can cause all kinds of severe dry mouth and tooth rot. However, more common abuses include smoking and alcohol abuse.
Smoking involves nicotine.
Nicotine is very dangerous for teeth, drying the mouth out, encouraging bacteria, and causing cavities.
Nicotine is also a huge cause of yellowing and discolored teeth. Not to mention that smoking causes all kinds of other health problems, including the risk of oral cancer.
Alcohol is also very tough on teeth.
Alcohol tends to be acidic and erodes enamel. Leaving teeth more vulnerable to decay. Also, many alcoholic beverages and cocktails are high in sugar, making them even worse for teeth.
18. Eating Disorders
Eating disorders can put your teeth at risk in a few different ways.
For starters, those with eating disorders of all types tend to have unbalanced diets, and often lack key nutrients. This can be very damaging to oral health. Calcium, phosphorus, and other nutrients are very important for healthy teeth.
Another way eating disorders cause cavities is when purging.
Purging isn’t part of all eating disorders, but it’s common practice for those with bulimia.
Purging is bad for the teeth because stomach bile is very acidic, and breaks down teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities.
Braces. A key part of aligning teeth, especially in young people.
However, they can be a disadvantage when it comes to cleaning teeth and protecting them from cavities.
Braces often make both brushings and flossing more difficult.
However, there are techniques and brushes that make keeping your teeth clean when you have braces, preventing bacteria from building up and causing cavities.
You can also drink more water and shouldn’t eat chewy food and candies, as they are much more likely to get stuck between your braces and cause plaque build up.
Skipping on certain foods that get stuck in braces will give you something to look forward to when they come off.
20. Bad Fillings
Bad fillings are a huge problem for oral health.
Bad fillings may be secured improperly, leaving room for bacteria to get at the rest of the tooth underneath, trapping it and allowing it to fester and cause tooth rot.
Bad fillings and crowning may also be made with poor materials, especially if they are older fillings or crowns.
21. Using The Wrong Toothbrush/Toothpaste
Finding the right toothbrush is very important.
Everyone has individual oral care needs, and your brush should match those needs.
For example, if your periodontitis or deep tooth cavities, you may need longer and softer bristles for adequate cleaning and comfort.
Using toothpaste with sugar flavoring can do more harm than good, encouraging tooth decay and cavities.
You should do your research and check the ingredients of your toothpaste before you use it. Toothpaste with fluoride is also beneficial when it comes to protecting teeth from decay.
22. Not Understanding What Plaque Is And How To Remove It
Not understanding what plaque is and how to practice good oral hygiene is a huge disadvantage when it comes to keeping plaque, bacteria, and decay at bay.
For starters, plaque is caused and composed of acidic bacteria buildup.
It’s visibly sticky and white and can be brushed and washed away from the surface of teeth.
Second, plaque must be brushed and flossed away in order to prevent cavities. Brushing and flossing twice a day with the right brush and toothpaste helps to protect your teeth, in addition to visiting the dentist twice annually under normal circumstances.
23. Receding Gums
Gums recede for many reasons, but mainly due to age and gum diseases like periodontitis.
Receding gums often exposes teeth and their roots, leaving them more vulnerable to bacteria that cause cavities.
In the case of periodontitis, receding gums is the effect caused by plaque and bacteria buildup, causing gingivitis and gum problems that lead to periodontitis.
To prevent this from happening before it starts, you should make sure to brush twice a day and visit the dentist regularly.
Already have cavities? You are at a higher risk for more cavities.
Due to the bacteria and the plaque buildup, that occurs when cavities occur.
Healthy teeth can be more vulnerable to cavities when there are current cavities in progress, another reason to visit the dentist for regular checkups.
Also, having cavities in the past may also indicate that your oral hygiene or chemical composition in your mouth is off balance.
To address this, you should visit the dentist regularly to catch dental issues before they start.
How To Prevent Cavities
There are also many ways to help protect your teeth from cavities. Here are a few tips for keeping the cavities away-
Brushing and flossing twice a day
This is one of the most important steps to fighting cavities. Brushing and flossing twice a day every day decreases your risk of dental decay by over 90%. Not to mention that you can prevent all kinds of other oral issues, including gum diseases by regularly caring for your own teeth.
Choosing fluoride toothpaste
Fluoride is a natural element that is excellent in strengthening teeth and preventing cavities. Fluoride toothpaste is a great everyday source of fluoride.
Visit the dentist for checkups
It’s recommended that you visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups. With regular checkups, your dentist can catch problems early on, like cavities and periodontal disease.
Eat the right foods
There are plenty of healthy foods that promote oral health and prevent cavities. Foods with high water content and calcium are especially food for your teeth, neutralizing bacteria and acids, strengthening teeth, and so much more. A few great foods for teeth include apples, celery, carrots, dairy products, whole grains and so much more!
Drink tap water
Most public tap water supplies have fluoride additives which help to decrease the rate of tooth decay, protecting your teeth. If you choose other water sources, you may be missing out on the fluoride benefits.
Rinse your mouth
Regularly rinsing after snacks and meals help to wash away food particles, plaque, and bacteria. Water will also neutralize acids and sugar that erode enamel. You can easily rinse on the go by keeping and drinking water throughout the day, washing away bacteria, plaque, and food particles from between teeth.
Consider fluoride and antibacterial treatments
If you aren’t getting enough fluoride, your dentist might recommend fluoride treatments to protect your teeth from decay. You may also be eligible for antibacterial treatments if you are especially vulnerable to tooth decay.
When it comes to cavities, there are lots of factors that may influence how vulnerable you may be to cavities. The main things to remember are to brush and floss your teeth twice a day every day, visit your dentist for checkups and cleanings, and make sure to eat and drink health and tooth-friendly. Keep these points in mind when preventing tooth decay and cavities.