What Are Cavities?

posted by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 11/8/2022 in General

man touching his cheek where he is having cavity pain

Cavities! The most dreaded diagnosis at a dentist’s office. Some people are so afraid of being told they have cavities they avoid the dentist altogether. But what are cavities exactly? Learn how cavities are caused and the three easy ways to stop them from happening to you.

What Are Cavities?

According to the Mayo Clinic, a cavity is a “permanently damaged area in the hard surface of your teeth.” When you are experiencing toothache or pain it may be because of a cavity. If you are suffering from any of the following symptoms, consult a dentist to see if a cavity is the cause.

Signs You May Have a Cavity

How Cavities Are Caused

If you're concerned about getting cavities, knowledge is power and can help alleviate some of your stress. Here are a few ways cavities can happen.

Sugar and Starch: Bacteria’s Best Friends

Your mouth is home to thousands of good and bad bacteria. When you eat sugary or starchy foods like candy, fruit, or cereal, the bad bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar. The sugar converts to acid, breaking down your tooth enamel. The acidic breakdown in turn can cause an infection which results in a cavity.

When left untreated, a cavity can spread into deeper layers of your enamel or to other teeth. Talk to your dentist about the effects of sugar on teeth and the worst foods for your oral health

Genetics: What Your Mama Gave You

If there is a strong family history of getting cavities, you may be more susceptible too. Current studies show genetics can make you predisposed to getting cavities. Keep your dentist in the loop about family genetics so he or she can keep a lookout for cavities during regular dental exams.  

Poor Oral Hygiene: Keep Your Teeth Clean 

If you consistently skip brushing, flossing or using mouthwash, you are letting bacteria and food particles in your mouth fester and form into cavities. Removing food particles from your teeth, gums, and mouth can help reduce your chances of experiencing cavities. 

How to Prevent Cavities

Now that you know how cavities are caused, it’s much easier to avoid them. Learn how you can prevent cavities with these three simple steps. 

Practice Healthy Dental Habits

The most important step you can take in preventing cavities is by consistently practicing healthy dental habits. This includes brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel making it less susceptible to cavities.

In addition to brushing teeth, you also want to floss at least once a day. Flossing helps remove food particles that can get stuck between teeth and stop cavities from forming. 

Mouthwash is a great last line of defense against cavities. Choose an anticavity mouthwash with fluoride to help keep cavities away. Like fluoride toothpaste, fluoride mouthwash can help strengthen your enamel. Add mouthwash to your daily dental hygiene routine to safeguard your teeth against cavities.  

Change Your Diet 

Avoiding foods that are high in sugar and adding more vegetables to your diet can enhance your oral health. For example, celery is known to improve gum health because it is full of vitamin A and C. Dairy products such as yogurt and milk contain good bacteria that can fight against bad bacteria that cause cavities. Discuss with your dentist the best foods for your teeth.

Visit the Dentist at Least Twice a Year

Last but not least, be sure to visit the dentist every six months. Your dentist will perform a comprehensive examination of your teeth. During the exam, he or she will be able to detect the presence of existing or newly forming cavities. If cavities are found, your dentist can provide a suite of treatment solutions, including fillings and crowns.

Avoid Cavities With a Kimball & Beecher Dentist

Cavity prevention is easy when you have a knowledgeable and friendly dentist to help you stay healthy. If you are nervous about getting your teeth examined, visit the Kimball & Beecher dentists near you. 

We are known for creating a stress-free, comfortable environment for first-time and regular patients. Don’t leave cavities untreated. Schedule an appointment with a Kimball & Beecher dentist today.

About The Author

Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS

Dr. Beau Beecher is the founder and CEO, of Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry. Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry is known for being a patient-centered practice that puts comfort and convenience first. Over 50,000 patients in Iowa cities travel miles to experience the high level of ... read more

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