Visiting the dentist can be scary! Even worse, if you are someone who seems to have cavities found on every visit, it can be understandably frustrating to go in for your biannual dental cleaning. This is especially true if you have been diligent with your oral hygiene routine.
Depending on several factors other than your oral hygiene, there may be other reasons why you always seem to have a cavity when you sit down in a dentist’s chair. In this article, I review the main causes of cavities as well as how to prevent them.
Cavities are the result of disease
You likely have heard since childhood from your family dentist that if you just brush and floss, you can stay cavity-free. In fact, most dentists will just tell you that cavities develop from plaque. But in reality, cavities are a result of a disease called dental caries.
Dental caries is caused by different types of bacteria which live in your mouth. While there are many helpful varieties of oral bacteria, dental caries bacteria eat the carbohydrates and sugar food particles in our mouths. They also excrete an acid which causes tooth decay and cavities.
At this time, dental caries is the most prevalent disease on the planet, with around 2 billion people affected by the disease worldwide. This disease can also be spread to others if you come in contact with someone else’s oral bacteria. Within your own mouth, one of the ways that cavities can spread is if your mouth is dry.
Dry mouth plays a major role in cavity development
It’s one thing to have an occasional dry mouth, but if you consistently struggle with dry mouth, that can be part of what is causing you to develop cavities. Some signs that you have the condition dry mouth are:
- Continually bad breath
- Dry mouth feeling
- Stickiness in your mouth
- Changed sense of taste
- Thick or stringy saliva
While plenty of people find dry mouth uncomfortable, they may not realize that it can seriously impact their dental health. Your saliva acts as a neutralizer, canceling out the acid that spreads dental caries and leads to tooth decay. Without enough saliva in your mouth, your teeth are exposed to greater concentrations of acid. This can lead to cavities.
Dietary habits can be another cavity contributor
Another possible suspect behind the cavities found every time you visit the dentist is your regular dietary habits.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the average American diet is far too high in sodium, sugar, and saturated fats. Also, while our grains intake is considered near the recommended amount, we’re still consuming a lot of carbohydrates. As you may already know, this nutrient is broken down into sugar.
When a person’s diet is high in things like sugar and carbs, it is an open invitation for cavity-causing bacteria to feast. As bacteria eats the leftover food on your teeth, it excretes acids that corrode your enamel and the dentin below.
While this process is natural, if you have a diet high in sugars and carbs, as well as acidic foods, your teeth will be exposed to more of the bacteria’s acid at a higher rate, leading to tooth decay and cavities.
3 ways to prevent future cavities
One of the key ways to prevent the spread of cavities is to brush twice a day with a soft bristle toothbrush, once in the morning and once before you go to bed for the evening.
Along with this routine, you should be flossing your teeth once in the evening to help remove lodged food particles. However, along with these basic things, here are 3 additional ways to prevent future cavities.
1) Have your cavities filled
Unfortunately, dental caries can spread in your mouth if left uncontrolled. Therefore, it is important to have your cavities filled! By doing this, not only can you prevent the spread of bacteria, but you can also prevent the tooth decay from becoming a more serious issue that will require a root canal.
2) Correct your dry mouth problem
Fixing dry mouth isn’t as simple as just drinking more water or sucking on hard candies.
To help encourage your salivary glands to produce more saliva, try chewing xylitol gum or xylitol mints. This naturally occurring alcohol helps prevent tooth decay and can help you address your dry mouth issue while protecting your teeth at the same time.
3) Visit the dentist when pregnant
Pregnancy can cause oral health issues which can lead to cavities. As a result, it is important that you go in for your dental cleanings while pregnant. This way, any problems that creep up can be caught and dealt with by your dentist.
As you learn more about your personal cavity risk factors and implement important prevention habits, you should be able to reduce the number of cavities you have in the future. Of course, if you have any questions, contact a dental professional today or ask them in the comments below!
Guest author: Tiffany Kay is a wife, mother, writer, and health enthusiast. While Tiffany was working as a dental hygienist she became very passionate about oral health. Now that she is home with her kids, she finds time to write and share her passion for oral health with others online. When she isn’t writing you can find her in the kitchen baking with her kids or in the front yard gardening. Tiffany loves spending time with her family and living an active, healthy, life.