What Causes Cavities in Teeth?

Having perfect oral health is a number one priority for all of us. On top of that, not only that we will keep our teeth in normal condition, but we will also have that beautiful smile that will attract everybody’s attention.

However, many of us fall victims to the number one enemy of our teeth – the cavity. Some people, no matter how much they take care of their teeth, are more prone to the decay than others and everything else that’s associated with it.

Usually, the sugar that we consume on a daily basis in combination with the bacteria that is cultivated in our mouths are the leading causes of caries. Other factors that affect us are our genetic predisposition and the actual effort that we put into maintaining our teeth healthy.

Learn more about sugar affects here.

Therefore, if you want to prevent yourself from any decay, or you are already suffering from it, let us guide you through the whole process of tooth cavity, its causes, symptoms and various ways of prevention and treatments.

Tooth Cavity: Definition and Causes

What Causes CavitiesDental Caries is just a fancy word for the tooth decay that occurs when the bacteria in your mouth produce acid that attacks the outer teeth’s surface or the so-called tooth enamel. It’s probably the most common type of oral disease that can affect every human being.

Each of us has beneficial bacteria in our oral environment, but when they get in touch with the sugary foods that we consume they have a harmful effect. To have a clear picture of what happens during this teeth’s deterioration, you need to know which the factors that affect it are.

  • Bacteria – As we have already said, there are various types of bacteria in our mouth. Some of them are not destructive at all and can protect us from the harmful ones. They can keep a perfect balance and neutralize the whole oral environment.
  • Plaque – Plaque is formed as a consequence of the other elements in the mouth. It’s a substance made of bacteria, some saliva’s components and tiny bits of leftover food. The plaque is a sticky mixture of all of these components, and it is easily glued to the teeth’s enamel. When the bacteria are attached to the tooth, the plaque grows, and we are exposed to potential caries on a daily basis.

You may be interested in knowing: How does Plaque cause a cavity?

  • Calculus – The calculus is formed when the plaque colludes with the saliva and extracts minerals from it. That can happen if the plaque is present long enough in our mouth and the minerals from the saliva will form crystals. This substance in solid form is the calculus, which can further on attract additional plaque and create new layers continuously.
  • Saliva – The saliva is the most present element in our oral cavity. Many of us are not aware of its positive effects on our oral health and how successful it is at protecting our teeth from decay and bacteria. It contains various minerals that will protect the enamel and can battle the acid that will attack it.

By knowing these elements’ impact, you can better understand and stop the spread of caries.

How is Dental Caries Developed?

A cavity is an undesirable occurrence, and as you know, it happens when the acids attack the enamel. The acid is created as a consequence of the sweet foods, and by sweet we mean all of the carbohydrate munchies.

Cakes, candies, soft drinks and even bananas can break down into simple sugars, which are the main ingredient in the acid created by the bacteria.

By attacking the enamel, the acids absorb minerals from the tooth, and the whole process is known as demineralization. Once the saliva dissolves the crystals, you may notice white spots on the teeth’s surface which means that the area is weakened, but the cover will probably still be smooth with no visible holes. However, at this point, the saliva is always present and will compensate for the lost minerals.

The damage is permanent if the acid damages the outer tooth’s surface entirely and reaches the dentin layer that’s underneath the enamel and even attack the tooth’s pulp.

Types of Caries

The type of caries depends on its development stage and on the kind of teeth that it attacks. Therefore, we distinguished between two, most common forms of caries.

  • Pit and fissure cavity – This is the cavity that attacks the molar’s chewing surface and premolar teeth. Also, it can attack the front teeth’s back surface. Because of the uneven chewing surface that creates the pits and the fissure, in which the plaque can be quickly built upon it. The more plaque that is trapped, the bigger the chances are for a decay to occur. As a consequence, the decay may cause an eruption in the surface and further on develop the cavity.
  • Smooth surface cavity – Contrary to the pit and fissure cavity, this one is created in the empty spaces where the teeth touch, or it can be seen along the line where the gums and teeth meet. That can be a less severe cavity than the first one because it’s more visible and it can be easily cleaned through careful flossing.

Other types of caries include the so-called ‘baby bottle’ that is a type of decay that occurs in children’s teeth. That’s because the children’s teeth are still not that strong enough and usually are also more prone to consuming sugary foods. That’s a perfect environment for the bacteria to grow and the teeth to be damaged.

Adults, on the other hand, are more exposed to the ‘root cavity.’ Many older people are more likely to have gums that retreat from their initial position due to many years of harsh brushing or other gums diseases.

If interested find out more about: What is Root Canal Therapy?

Also, many can suffer from dry mouth due to some medications or similar reasons. As a consequence, the lowered amounts of saliva and its decreased remineralization effects will cause the decay to destroy the enamel quickly.

Dental Caries Symptoms

Caries can be sneaky, and it can exist in our oral cavity without causing any symptoms for longer periods of time. The symptoms appear when the decay has been present long enough to break through the enamel and as a consequence, to make our teeth more sensitive to sweets and to cold or hot food and drinks.

Usually, you will notice a sharp pain when consuming such food. Also, you can feel a constant toothache which can occur without being triggered in any way, or you can feel pain only when chewing.

Apart from the painful symptoms, other symptoms include visible holes and brown and black stains on the teeth’s outer surface. All of the symptoms depend on caries’s extent, and therefore it’s crucial to visit your dentist regularly.

If it’s in the early stages it can be successfully reversed, so don’t wait for any symptoms to appear and save yourself from the painful experience.

Why Should We Go for Regular Dental Checkups?

Dental Checkups to Prevent Tooth CavityMany of us find the dentist visits unpleasant, and most of the time we tend to postpone them as much as possible.

However, if we want to maintain perfect oral health and a beautiful smile, the regular dental check-ups should be an inevitable part of our lives.


The regular check-ups can first and foremost prevent you from any occurrence of undesired decay and cavity. At each visit, the dentist will thoroughly check every surface and may use different tools and practices during the check-up.

Sometimes, it’s hard to spot any traces of caries, especially in the interproximal area. If the dentist suspects that any occurrence of a cavity is soon possible, they can suggest taking an X-ray scan. Such procedures can detect any caries that are forming even in the earliest of stages.

Dental Plan Tip

Did you know that most dental insurance companies cover the check-ups for free! You usually will get up to 2 free checkups a year. 

Find out more about: Best Dental Insurance Plans for Individuals & Families

Also, have in mind that some cavity is not visible and the scan will show whether it has reached the tooth’s nerve.

There are other alternative methods of detecting decay and cavities. The dentist may decide to apply a liquid, nontoxic colored substance on your teeth, let it sit for a moment and rinse it with water.

If there are no infected surfaces, the content will be successfully washed off. If not, then it means that the surfaces where the substance has been glued to are affected by caries.

If the cavity is detected in the late stages, then regular dentist visits are even more important and a must. If the decay hadn’t destroyed the enamel, then the dentist can more easily clean it and save the tooth from further destruction.

But, if the coating is already damaged, the dentist must clean and fill the cavities to prevent it from going deeper and from attacking the root.

Is Bacteria on Teeth Normal?

We have mentioned several times that there are various types of bacteria living in our mouth. Scientists have even discovered more than 700 bacteria types that are present in our oral cavity. Even though some of them are there to damage our teeth, their presence in our mouth is entirely reasonable.

The good bacteria will neutralize the effects of the harmful ones and will work towards the cavity’s maximum protection. In continuation, we want to introduce to you few of the bacteria that are responsible for damaging the teeth.Types of Bacteria Causing Cavities

  • Streptococcus Mutans – It is believed that it is the main contributor to the plaque build-up. It creates biofilms on the enamel and increases the level of acid that is closely connected to the sugary food that we consume on a daily basis. Also, it is resistant to low pH values, and it grows when it’s exposed to it. Some surfaces are more prone to the build-up than others, and it varies for every person.
  • Candida Albicans – The Streptococcus Mutans and the Candida Albicans are closely related to the process of decay formation. Scientists have proved that the Streptococcus Mutans allows the Candida Albicans to create a sticky polymer, which in turn enables the fungus to build upon different surfaces. The latest research shows that C. Albicans more than doubles the chance for a cavity occurrence and other oral diseases.

Importance of Flossing

Flossing your teeth is just as important as brushing them regularly. While most people avoid flossing you shouldn’t. There are many benefits of flossing regularly so make this your habit. There are a few ways that you can floss your teeth. You can do it manually or you can get the most recommended flosser for your teeth.

Interesting fact: Did you know that water flossers are also called water picks? You can find out more about them and read our WaterPik review here.

Cavity Prevention and Treatment

Several ways can have a positive impact on your oral health that can prevent your teeth from decaying. It’s good to ask your dentist about what will work the best in your case, but below we will provide several tips that in general are great in the battle against cavity.Preventing Cavity Decay


This mineral is the main component of almost every toothpaste nowadays. That’s because it strengthens the teeth by penetrating into them and it’s excellent in protecting them from decay. Once it reaches the teeth, it repairs the enamel and compensates for the lost calcium and phosphorous. Also, it makes the coating stronger and more resistant to the bacteria’s acids.

Teeth Whitening Products

Did you know some whiteners prevent cavities from forming? You can get these in different versions, some come in a quality whiter kit and some can be in a form of a pen. There are many others as well so we always recommend on doing a proper research before using any of the whitening products.

Find out more about: “Best Teeth Whitening Products for 2018

Cutting Down Sugar

Some of us may be more prone to caries no matter what the circumstances are, but most of the time, we are the main contributors to the development of decay with our eating habits. Therefore, you should avoid sugary food that can be easily dissolved because the oral cavity will remain acidic for several hours after the consumption of sugar.

Consuming Foods Tich in Calcium

On the other hand, you can increase the consumption of products that contain more calcium. Usually, such foods are the dairy products, especially cheese and milk. By consuming them not only you will increase the vitamins and minerals level in your body, but also you will improve your oral health. Other beneficial products are vegetables, fruits, and drinks like green and black tea.

Regular Brushing

Brushing your teeth regularly will prevent them from any oral diseases, and it should be your number one priority. Even though you cannot destroy every bacteria in your mouth, you may lower their presence by brushing at least twice a day. Be sure to use the proper toothbrush and toothpaste to not further damage the teeth and the gums.

If you want to keep your teeth fresh consider “Best Electric Toothbrush Reviews for 2018“.


Even though it can be completely harmless, if not appropriately treated, caries can cause us a lot of troubles and pain. Therefore, we hope that we have managed to outline every critical aspect related to it and you got familiar with it in detail.

No matter how much you take care of your teeth, don’t forget that it may be written in your DNA to attract more decay and therefore you must regularly go to the dentist for check-ups.

By lowering the sugar intake, you can also help the good bacteria to balance the whole oral environment, and you can decrease the chances of unpleasant caries to further build up in your oral cavity.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply