What Really Causes Cavities?
As kids, our parents told us that sugar caused cavities. While some truth exists in that statement, it implies that if you avoid sugar, you can avoid cavities and that is just not the case. In fact, starchy foods that collect in the grooves of your teeth convert to sugar when partially digested by your saliva and so seemingly harmless foods such as corn flakes and bagels can actually cause as much, or more, damage.
Food and beverages play a role in decay, especially anything that sticks in the grooves of your teeth, but that is just one aspect of dental decay. Your tooth anatomy plays a large role in whether you will acquire decay or not. People with deep grooves in the chewing surfaces of their teeth, overlapping, and over crowded teeth make it difficult for you to maintain excellent oral hygiene. Treatments such as dental sealants and orthodontic treatment can help you to maintain the health of your teeth.
Acidic foods such as sodas and energy drinks don’t cause cavities on their own, but with regular use, they can soften your enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to decay. Additionally, certain medications cause dry mouth, weakening your natural defense mechanism against decay. Your saliva contains proteins and minerals that restore the natural balance of your mouth and protect against decay as well as gum disease.
The fact is that bacteria cause tooth decay. Bacteria create an acidic environment inside your mouth. Just like with sodas and sports drinks, that acidic environment can soften your enamel, putting your teeth at risk because your enamel is your tooth’s protective armor.
Regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits help to keep bacteria at bay and minimize the damage they do to your teeth. Implementation of a preventative home care routine combined with professional cleanings and diagnostic imaging can minimize the damage bacteria can do.
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