We’re taught at a young age to try to avoid getting cavities – even to fear them. But we may not have put much thought into what actually causes cavities.

So, what causes cavities and what’s the best way to go about prevention?

Cavities, also known as tooth decay, begin with a substance called plaque.

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. Don’t be alarmed: Having bacteria in your mouth is perfectly normal!
Woman at a dentist office, Schumacher & Bauer, smiling
But when plaque is combined with sugary food and drinks, the bacteria in plaque produces acids that attack enamel, the protective outer layer of our teeth.

Put another way, cavities are actually little holes. Doesn’t sound ideal, does it?

Left unchecked the bacteria can become an even bigger problem.

Irritation in the pulp, where tissue and nerves reside, will cause sensitivity and toothaches. In fact, toothaches from these cavities are one of top reasons people visit dentists.

Of course, if you’re really on top of your oral hygiene, cavities can be avoided even before they begin to form.

We can start by consuming healthy foods and drinks and staying away from sugary foods, which may be easier said than done. But even those with a sweet tooth can make sure sugars are cleaned from the teeth to avoid the formation of enamel-eroding acids. Brushing well twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily can dramatically reduce the risk of cavities.

Of course, we recommend visiting Schumacher & Bauer, DDS for regular dental cleanings and exams. Our team is here to help you keep your smile healthy. Contact us today to set up your next dental checkup.


Sources: American Dental Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention