What Causes a Cavity?

We have all heard “brush your teeth or you will get a cavity”.  There is certainly some truth to this statement.  Your parents were right, you should be brushing.  However, there is more to the cavity process than a simple lack of brushing.  Your dentist in St. Charles, MO can determine if you have cavities and help to put you on the right oral hygiene regimen to lower your risk.

Cavities are also referred to as dental caries or tooth decay.  The mouth is filled with bacteria that are invisible to the naked eye.  Research has shown that some of the bacteria are good while some are likely to lead to cavities.  Some people carry more of these bacteria than others, making them slightly more susceptible to tooth decay.

Cavities are a direct result of a process of demineralization which breaks down the outer layer of tooth structure over time.  The breakdown or demineralization is typically brought about by plaque left on the teeth.  Plaque contains the bacteria previously discussed.  Plaque (also known as biofilm) can be left behind from improper brushing and flossing.  Plaque also contains food debris.  If plaque is not removed in a timely manner the demineralization process begins.

Some individuals do not have adequate saliva flow or consistency.  This is sometimes found in the elderly, patients taking certain medications, and those with specific health disorders.  Saliva helps to neutralize plaque acids in the mouth.  If an inadequate flow of saliva is produced, there is an increased risk for decay.  Diet certainly is a contributing factor to cavities.  Those diets rich in carbohydrates which are broken down into sugar speed up the demineralization process.

Proper removal of plaque, diligent brushing habits, and a balanced diet all are keys for lowering your chances of tooth decay.  Take a preventive stance against cavities by visiting your St Charles MO dentist regularly.