Do you have a tooth cavity? If you know the early signs of a tooth cavity, you can have it treated as soon as possible before it becomes a more serious problem.
A tooth cavity occurs when enough plaque builds up on your teeth for the acids produced by the plaque to eat away at the tooth enamel, causing a loss of tooth mineral. If this loss of mineral from the enamel is left untreated, a cavity, or hole in the tooth, can eventually occur. The plaque acids can also eat away at the next layer of the tooth (dentin) and eventually cause what is known as a root cavity.(1)
Top Tooth Cavity Causes
Anyone of any age can develop a tooth cavity, but there are some factors that increase your risk, including:
- Poor Oral Hygiene: Not brushing your teeth regularly allows plaque to build up and attack the tooth enamel.
- Dry Mouth: Saliva helps wash plaque from the teeth. If you have a dry mouth with very little saliva, plaque may build up more quickly.
- Clingy Food: Foods that tend to cling to your teeth can increase your risk for a tooth cavity. Be sure to brush your teeth regularly, especially after drinking milk or soda, or after eating dried fruit, dry cereal, hard candy, cookies and breath mints.
- Medical Problems: can contribute to a tooth cavity by causing acid from your stomach to flow back into your mouth. Similarly, bulimia increases the risk of a tooth cavity when the teeth are exposed to stomach acid during frequent vomiting. In addition, some types of cancer treatment that expose the head and neck to radiation can promote a tooth cavity by changing the makeup of the saliva to promote increased bacterial growth. (4)
Meet the Bacteria Behind a Tooth Cavity
Many types of bacteria cause cavities, and they mingle with other types of harmless bacteria in the mouth, making it difficult to target and eliminate them. Check out these common tooth cavity culprits:
- Streptococcus species: Streptococcus bacteria are most likely to cause a tooth cavity on the side of a tooth, where it may not be visible until your dentist takes an x-ray
- Odontomyces Viscoses: These bacteria usually cause a tooth cavity on the outside layer of the tooth root called the cementum. This layer may be exposed in older adults whose gums are receding.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus: These bacteria are most likely to cause a tooth cavity on the chewing surface of the tooth. Lactobacillus acidophilus has some beneficial properties—evidence suggests that it can promote healthy gastrointestinal functions—but it can cause a tooth cavity in school-aged children. (2)
Products to Help Prevent a Tooth Cavity
The best way to help prevent a tooth cavity is to follow a regular oral care routine, including twice-daily tooth-brushing and daily flossing. Find the oral care products that suit your needs, and you will be more likely to keep your teeth clean and healthy.
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