A Closer Look at a Cavity

Brush your teeth or you’ll get a cavity. Don’t eat sugar or you’ll get a cavity. If you don’t get regular check ups you might…….yes, get a cavity! They are pesky, they hurt and everyone dreads getting one. What happens to our teeth causing them to get a cavity?

a closer look at a cavity

What is a cavity?

Cavities are an infection caused by bacteria that find their way into teeth.  Eventually they get through the enamel (the outer white part of the tooth). Which is something else when you consider that enamel is the strongest part of the body, stronger than bone.  Bacteria can infect the enamel. When the natural bacteria in your mouth combine with pieces of food and saliva, plaque forms, which is an invisible, sticky substance that accumulates on the enamel of your teeth. Foods that are rich in starch or sugar make the plaque stickier, and if the plaque remains on your teeth for a few days or more, it gets harder and becomes another substance known as tartar.

When the bacteria in plaque and tartar convert sugar into acid, the acid then eats away at the tooth enamel, which over time creates a soft spot or hole in your tooth (a cavity). Unfortunately, the acid continues to cause damage to the next layer of your tooth (the dentin), which is softer and more susceptible to the acid and the damage it causes. The bacteria and acid will continue to make their way through your tooth and into the pulp, which creates an even bigger hole.

We want to ensure you have the important information on your oral health and any tips to keep your smile gorgeous so the team at our Chinook Mall  Dental Clinic have listed for you the top ten causes of a Dental Cavity.

Poor Oral Hygiene Practices:

Poor oral hygiene not only includes brushing your teeth regularly, but not flossing regularly, not brushing your tongue, and not using mouthwash. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day – morning and night, but it is ideal to brush after every meal. And remember to brush for at least two minutes. Set a little timer for yourself while you’re brushing to ensure that you brush your teeth for the full two minutes. Improper oral hygiene will ultimately lead to tooth decay.

Deep Tooth Crevices and Enamel Issues:

Individuals with enamel issues and who have deep crevices in their teeth are highly-likely to have problems with tooth decay. This is because the deep crevices allow bacteria and plaque easy access to grow. Dental sealants are typically used to prevent tooth decay in patients with deep tooth crevices. A dental sealant is only safe for uninfected teeth for the prevention of tooth decay.

Improper Nutrition:

Avoiding foods that are high in sugar, high in carbohydrates and high in acid is the best way to avoid tooth decay due to improper nutrition. Eating a healthy diet, which includes healthy foods and the avoidance of sugary acidic drinks is best for you.

Sugary Foods:

The bacteria in your mouth literally feed off of sugary foods, and then begin to coat your teeth in damaging acid. This can all happen immediately and can occur several times over the course of just one meal, which is why it’s recommended you brush your teeth after each meal to eliminate acid. When thinking of sugary foods, you more than likely think “candy” and such, when in fact, there are many foods that contain hidden sugars. So be thoughtful in what you consume and always be on the lookout for hidden sugars. Remember, sugary drinks such as juice are just as damaging to your teeth as soda.

Acidic Foods and Drinks:

When we think  “acidic” we more than likely think of “soda,” fact is many common foods which people consume on a daily basis contain acid. Surprisingly, even foods like as fish and bread contain acid. Mor obviously, carbonated beverages such as soda, as well as fruit juice are all acidic agents which cause tooth decay. Unlike the way that bacteria feed off of sugary foods so they can coat the teeth in acid, acidic foods and drinks immediately begin to damage tooth enamel with their own acid.

Dry Mouth Issues:

The fact that saliva helps impede the growth of plaque, people with dry mouth conditions will more than likely have dental issues which lead to tooth decay. Dry mouth may be caused by prescription medications, it may be genetic, or it may be caused by medical conditions such as Diabetes. A vigilant dentist will work closely with a patient to prevent tooth decay or further tooth decay due to dry mouth issues.

Tooth Grinding:

Many people grind their teeth and do not even realize that they do this. Tooth grinding typically occurs when persons are asleep or when they’re under immense stress. Tooth grinding leads to tooth decay due to the fact that it strips away the outer layer of tooth enamel. Tooth grinding is preventable with the use of a “bite guard,” also known as a “night guard,” and with the reduction of stress.


Often times, many people have issues with tooth decay thanks to genetics. Just as you inherit the color of your eyes and hair from your family, you also inherit deep tooth crevices and enamel issues, which lead to cavities.


There are many reasons that cavities become more common with age, but some include common prescription medications which cause dry mouth, the recession of gums with age, and improper oral hygiene finally catching up with age.

Avoiding the Dentist:

Lastly, don’t avoid a visit to see us! It is not good for your teeth and will ultimately lead to future tooth decay.  Ideally, you should be in our chair every six months for routine cleaning and an examination. During your examination we will examine your mouth for any signs of tooth decay. If signs of tooth decay exist, then we are able to work quickly to treat the issues, as well as provide any preventive measures to avoid future tooth decay all together.

If you think you might have a cavity forming in your mouth, schedule an appointment at our Chinook Mall Dentist Office. It is worth your while to treat cavities early, avoiding extensive procedures such as root canals.

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