What Causes Dental Cavities?
Updated: Mar 19
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities are caused by specific tiny microbes that live in our mouths. These microbes are with us soon after birth, we typically pick them up as babies from our parent's mouths and as our teeth erupt, they naturally begin to accumulate communities of bacteria.
Depending on what we eat, and specifically, how much sugar we consume, certain microbes can be overpopulated and cause cavities.
Diets high in sugary foods cause an explosion of bacteria called mutans streptococci in our mouths. Like Humans these microorganisms love sugar, using a molecular building block and energy source. As they consume it the bacteria generate byproducts in the form of acids, such as lactic acid. Mutans streptococci are resistant to this acid, but unfortunately, our teeth aren't. While each human tooth is coated in a hardy, protective layer of enamel, it is no match for acid, that degrades the armour over time, leaching away its calcium minerals. Gradually, acid wears down a pathway for bacteria into the tooth secondary layer called dentin. Since blood vessels and nerves in our teeth are enclosed deep within at this stage, the expanding cavity doesn't hurt, but if the damage extends beyond the dentin, the bacterial invasion progresses causing excruciating pain as the nerves become exposed. Without treatment, the whole tooth may become infected and required removal, all due to those sugar-loving bacteria.
The more sugar our food contains, the more our teeth are put at risk.
After the industrial revolution, the human incidence of cavities urged, because suddenly we had technological advances that made refine sugar cheaper and accessible. Today, an incredible 92% of American adults have had cavities in their teeth. Some people are more susceptible to cavities due to genes that may cause certain weaknesses, like softer enamel, but for most, high sugar consumption is to blame. However. we have developed other ways of minimizing cavities, besides reducing our intake sugar can starch. In most toothpaste and many water supplies, we use tiny amounts of fluoride, that strengthens teeth and encourages the growth of enamel crystals that build up a tooth's defences against acid.
When cavities do develop, we use tooth feelings to fill and close off the infected area, preventing them from getting worse.
The best way to avoid a cavity is still cutting down on sugar intake and practising good oral hygiene to get rid of the bacteria and their food sources. That includes regular tooth brushing, flossing and avoiding sugary, starchy and sticky foods that cling to your teeth between meals.
Gradually the population of sugar-loving microbes in your mouth will decline.
Nowadays, we do have the knowledge required to avert a cavity calamity. We just need to use it.
At GM Dental and Implant Centre in Strood, Rochester, we can help you with your oral issues, if you would like to know your current oral situation, book an assessment with our dentist and we will check your oral health and provide you with an oral report.
If you would like to book your assessment, please give us a call on ☎01634718882, and our lovely team will help you book your appointment.