Cavities are the holes formed on the surface of the tooth, caused by decay or damage due to many reasons. The cavities are also known as caries. The cavities start as microcavities when there is a hole in only the tooth enamel layer. It is the earliest stage of cavities. If this is detected at the earliest, it is easier to fix the problem. The best way is to identify how cavities are formed and what causes them in the first place. Knowing these will help you get a plan on how to prevent the cavity formation. Let’s find out the causes and preventive measures for cavities.
How cavity is formed?
Cavities are formed when the food gets stuck on the tooth surface most often. When the food is stuck, the oral bacteria can readily feed on them. The bacteria then form a thin layer over the tooth, called plaque. The bacteria produced plaque contains acids that remove the mineral coating over the tooth. The tooth enamel is attacked and there could easily be a hole in the enamel. When the damage is not rectified sooner, it worsens the situation by going deeper into the tooth layers, forming a hole. This is the cavity.
The damage starts with the enamel, goes down to the next layer- dentin and further on to the inner pulp. It could even reach the root and then the bone as well.
Dental cavities are the most common dental problem in the world. Cavities have no age bar and can affect anyone from toddlers to the elders. For each person, the main reason may be different but the cavity formation is the same for all.
What causes cavity?
There can be several reasons for the cavity formation. Whatever the reason may be, it all comes down to the food attached to the teeth for a longer period that is ultimately causing the damage. Poor dental hygiene, a position of the tooth and habits, all lead to the cavity formation. Here are a few of the common risk factors that cause cavities.
- Tooth location: This is a primary reason for cavity formation. The tooth location especially that of the molars and pre-molars, is tough to clean. Food particles can still stick to these areas and we can be unaware of the situation. This leads to the cavity formation. The various grooves, crannies and the pits in these teeth can all provide ample hideout for the bacteria.
- Inadequate brushing is the second common cause of tooth decay. If you are not keen on cleaning the mouth and teeth regularly, you are sure to get cavities anytime. Wash and rinse the mouth after eating or drinking anything. Using a mouthwash after food can also help prevent the bacterial growth.
- Food types: Certain types of food can be sticky. Sugary foods, pastries, bakery items, milk, soda, dry cereal, dry fruits etc can stick to the teeth or hide in the gaps. When these stay for longer, the bacteria find them immediately and start growing. These food items are not washed away by the saliva and need external cleansing. When we fail to clean the teeth after eating these foods, they are sure to cause damage.
- Eating habits: A frequent eater is, in fact, feeding the mouth bacteria. Every time we eat or eating more frequently can add fuel to these bacteria. The favorable conditions for these bacteria mean a damaging condition for the teeth. It is easily worn down the teeth. Moreover, the drinks like soda and other acidic items are directly attacking the teeth with its acidic nature.
- Fluoride deficiency: Our teeth need fluoride, a mineral that can reverse the tooth decay. People who use fluoride-based toothpaste are less prone to tooth decay. When people lack this mineral in their water or toothpaste, there are more chances of tooth cavities.
- Dry mouth is a result of low saliva formation. When there is less saliva, less are the chances of natural wash down of the food particles in the mouth. The dry mouth also favors the decaying bacteria to grow with these food particles. The result is plaque. The plaque when hardens with several layers form the tartar. Tartar is a harder material that completely shields the bacteria underneath.
- Health problems like heartburn can cause tooth erosion. The acid reflux can damage the enamel when exposed to. Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia (vomiting) can cause more acid in the mouth frequently that wears down the enamel. These can also affect the saliva production.
- Dental devices are another reason for tooth decay. These devices can be a hindrance while cleaning the teeth. The dental fillings that are years old can be worn. The tiny holes on these fillings can also lead to further tooth decay.
Preventive measure of cavities
- Brushing the teeth twice a day can be the beginning. Make sure that your toothpaste has fluoride in it. Also, remember to rinse the mouth properly after eating or drinking anything.
- Drinking tap water helps get fluoride as it contains this mineral. The bottled water misses this mineral out.
- Avoid frequent eating or sipping. Stick to a timetable and rinse the mouth afterward. Avoiding too much of sticky food items would also help. Take more fibrous foods to naturally clean the teeth. Biting the apples is a great way of natural cleaning of the teeth.
- Finish your dental care with a non-alcoholic mouthwash. Chewing gums that have Xylitol is also a good way.
- Regular visits to the dentist are on the cards. A dentist can easily spot the enamel damage and take necessary steps to prevent further destruction.
Proper care is the best way to prevent cavity formation. Antibacterial treatments and mouthwash can help to an extent. Since cavities have no age bar you should have a proper dental care program for every day, no matter what your age is. Yet, young children and elderly people should have more care for their dental health. These are the most vulnerable people for dental cavities and decay. Urge your little ones to brush the teeth twice. Good habits should start early!