Brunette woman in flannel against a pink wall cringes in pain due to tooth decay and touches her cheek in Bellevue

What Causes Teeth to Decay?

May 29, 2021 6:29 pm
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Tooth decay is weakening of the enamel, the outer layer of teeth. A cavity is a hole caused by decay that indicates the tooth has been permanently damaged. Read on to learn what causes cavities, what increases your risk for decay, and how to protect your teeth.

How Cavities Form

The decay process begins with dental plaque. This is a sticky film of bacteria that coats your teeth. It forms when bacteria eat the sugars and starches found in your food. If you don’t carefully clean your teeth every day, plaque builds up on your teeth. When the sticky coating isn’t cleaned off, it hardens into tartar.

The bacteria in plaque create acidic byproducts when they feast upon your dietary sugar. This acid destroys minerals in your tooth enamel, which consequently weakens it. If your enamel is not properly remineralized, holes called cavities form. Without treatment, these holes can progress through the other layers of your teeth. Untreated cavities can cause serious infections and tooth loss!

Risk Factors for Tooth Decay

All natural teeth are susceptible to cavities. However, certain risk factors can make you more vulnerable to decay. For example:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Chronic dehydration and dry mouth
  • Tobacco usage
  • Teeth grinding and clenching
  • Gum disease
  • Excessive consumption of simple carbohydrates and starches, like soda, dried fruit, chewy or sticky candy, and chips
  • Chewing sugary gum
  • Snacking and grazing throughout the day
  • Acid reflux and/or morning sickness

Cavity Prevention

Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with a soft-bristled toothbrush, floss every day, and visit Bellevue Dental Oasis at least twice a year for preventive dental care! We can identify cavities in their early stages and suggest positive changes to your oral health habits to help prevent dental issues.

If you have any questions about tooth decay or want to schedule your next visit, please contact us today. Explore our website to learn about our spa-like amenities, services, and affordable payment options.

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