How Exactly Are Cavities Formed?
Contrary to popular belief; sugar isn’t solely to blame.
So, we all know that consuming sugary foods and beverages often is a major risk factor for tooth decay and cavity development. But do you know exactly why this is, and how the damage occurs?
If you want to know, read on…
Contrary to what you may believe, it isn’t the sugar itself that’s directly causing the cavities. In fact, it’s the bacteria in our mouths that feed off of these sugars… namely a sinister bacteria referred to as streptococcus mutans.
Sounds scary, right? Take it from our Guelph dentist – it kind of is. BUT, don’t fret: all it takes is a proper daily oral hygiene routine and some extra efforts when necessary to protect our smiles from these evil s.mutan villains.
How tooth decay begins
Every time harmful sugars come into contact with your teeth, the strep mutans bacteria uses these sugars to create bacterial acids that are a threat to the tooth enamel (the outermost layer of the teeth that protects all the layers beneath it). Despite the tooth enamel being the hardest material in the body – yes, harder than bone – it is still destructible when faced with these acids, or with aggressive tooth brushing over a period of time.
But how do these acids destroy the enamel?
The tooth’s structure is composed of important minerals – primarily hydroxyapatite; a crystalline calcium phosphate mineral. Every time the acids attack, some of these valuable minerals are taken from the tooth’s composition – a process referred to as “demineralization”. But the good news is, as long as there’s an equal or greater amount of “remineralization” occurring as well through oral hygiene efforts, the teeth can remain strong and avoid decaying to the point of requiring a filling.
Cavity prevention is possible with a proper oral hygiene routine!
No one should really fear cavities if they’re properly looking after their smile every day. This means eating a balanced diet limited in sugars and fermentable carbohydrates, brushing twice a day (preferably with a fluoridated toothpaste) for two minutes each session, and flossing once daily. Also, when you DO consume sugars, try to swish water or milk around in your mouth afterward to lower the acidity in the mouth – or alternatively, chew on a hard piece of cheese.
Oh, and of course, it’s important to visit the dentist and hygienist for a check-up and cleaning every 6 months or as necessary. If you’re due for one, call our clinic today and schedule an appointment – we’d love to see you and your smile!
Dr. Coman Dentistry
85 Norfolk Street, Suite 308
Guelph, ON N1H 4J4