Tooth decay, also known as cavities or dental caries, is the deterioration of the tooth structure from a combination of bacteria in your mouth mixing with sugars in your food to create acids that slowly eat away at your teeth. It can be caused by several factors which, for the most part, can be avoided if the right actions are taken. For example, dietary choices and proper oral hygiene are two areas that are completely within your control which can influence your chance of getting cavities or dental caries while genetics is something that is out of your control.
Once you understand what are some of the main factors that can increase your chances of tooth decay, you will be better prepared to prevent tooth decay from happening to you. Below you will find some of the main causes of tooth decay in Canada.
Consuming Food And Drinks High In Sugar
We all know either from personal experience, or from hearing it over and over again as children, that too much candy and other sugary food or drinks will give us cavities. The reason for this is that when the bacteria in your mouth, known as plaque, feeds off the sugars in your food, an acidic byproduct is produced. Since plaque is sticky, this acid will literally stick to your teeth beginning the tooth decay process.
The more sugars you consume in your diet, the more often this process will happen, eventually leading to cavities or dental caries which, if not fixed by a dentist, will just continue to get worse until there is no other option but to extract the tooth.
Unfortunately, modern day diets which consist of many packaged foods are very high in sugars that most people don’t even realize are there. When grocery shopping, make sure you are buying more foods that strengthen your teeth and staying away from foods that cause tooth decay. This will not only benefit your oral health, it will also make you an overall healthy person.
Poor Oral Hygiene
We have all heard it before; brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day to maintain good oral health. But is this really enough to prevent tooth decay?
One of the major reasons people experience tooth decay is because they have poor oral hygiene. In reality, brushing twice a day should be the minimum requirement for reducing your chance of tooth decay. Proper oral hygiene for preventing tooth decay entails washing your mouth after every meal, even if it is just a quick brushing or mouth rinse.
The reason is that after you eat, the acids produced by plaque and sugar in your mouth will begin eating away at your teeth and remain there for approximately 20 minutes. Washing away these acids right away will limit them from making any noticeable damage to your tooth enamel.
If, however, you choose to ignore this fact and only brush once a day or less, these acids will remain on your teeth for 24 hours at a time, giving them freedom to literally make holes in your teeth. The plaque buildup will also eventually turn into tartar, which is hardened plaque that firmly attaches to the enamel of your teeth. As you can see, people who practice poor oral hygiene have a perfect environment for tooth decaying bacteria to thrive.
Low Saliva Level In The Mouth
Saliva helps slow the formation of plaque on teeth by constantly flushing the bacteria away from the mouth. Therefore, people who have dry mouths tend to have greater plaque buildup which, as you now know, will cause tooth decay. Some of the reasons you may have dry mouth issues include:
- genetic reasons
- prescription medication that dry the mouth
- not drinking enough water
- certain medical conditions such as diabetes
- chronic diarrhea
Grinding Your Teeth
A lot of people grind their teeth without even realizing they do so, which can contribute to tooth decay for obvious reasons. As you grind your teeth, you are essentially chipping away at the upper layer of tooth enamel. You may also be creating tiny cracks and crevices in your teeth from all the grinding, which can become a difficult spot to clean where acids can accumulate and decay the tooth further.
So far all of the causes of tooth decay mentioned are more or less avoidable. Genetics, however, are not withing your control and are inherited from your parents.
One of the most common genetic factors that can contribute to tooth decay is the shape of your teeth and how strong your tooth enamel is. For example, some people may have molars with deep tooth crevices. These crevices are hard to clean, therefore allowing bacteria and acids to accumulate inside of them and remain there for extended periods of time.