A cavity is caused by tooth decay that starts in the enamel and progresses inwards toward the soft tissue in the center of your tooth. A cavity will eventually cause a painful infection and the ultimate demise of the tooth if left untreated.
So what are the top 5 reasons why some people have more cavities than others? Like with many health conditions, there are multiple variables that have to be considered.
1. Oral Hygiene
Considering the fact that cavities are caused by bacteria, frequent and proper brushing and flossing is essential in reducing the occurrence of cavities.
Since bacteria proliferates rapidly in the presence of plaque, brushing and flossing properly and frequently, reduces the amount of plaque build-up.
2. Bottled Versus Tap Water
Depending on where you live, bottled water might very well be safer than tap water. There is however, one major drawback to bottled water that many people do not consider. Fluoride, which is a mineral that strengthens the enamel of our teeth, is routinely added in the municipal tap water we drink, as a public health measure to combat dental cavities. Bottled water does not have the benefits added fluoride, so if you exclusively drink bottled water, and do not routinely get fluoride from other sources, you are likely to end up with more cavities.
Regardless of whether you drink tap or bottled water, we should all use toothpaste that contains fluoride. You should also ask your hygienist to apply fluoride varnish to your teeth during your bi-annual cleaning and exam. These measures become much more important if you are not getting fluoride from the water you drink.
3. Sugary Food and Drinks
We have all heard the term "sugar bug". In a sense, that is exactly what a cavity-causing bacteria is. Sugars are simple carbohydrates so they are very easily broken down by bacteria. During this process, the bacteria releases acidic by-products that causes your teeth to decay.
This does not mean that you should never indulge in a sugary treat or drink again. If you are prone getting cavities, always brush after every meal or snack. This becomes easier if you designate set times when you snack or drink sugary drinks. Avoid snacking or sipping on sugary drinks constantly throughout the day.
4. Dry Mouth
Having inadequate saliva production allows cavity producing bacteria to thrive. This bacteria thrives in acidic environments, so without adequate flow of saliva to balance the acidity in your mouth, cavity-causing bacteria reproduce at a faster rate.
If you have dry mouth that is caused by medications or other known causes, it is essential that you talk to your dentist or doctor to properly address the situation.
5. Your Genes
Our genes play a huge role in determining disease progression. Environmental factors mentioned above play a huge role in tooth decay; however, having genes that make you prone to developing cavities, is not a life sentence of cavities. There are many measures you can take to give your self a fighting chance.
If you do not currently have cavities, make sure you get a routine cleaning and exam every six months to prevent cavities and/or diagnose and treat them early. If you have been diagnosed with cavities, you should have them treated as soon as possible. Allowing your cavities to progress untreated will lead painful infections and possibly tooth loss.