What Causes Cavities? 

added on: March 11, 2021

Nobody likes to hear that they have a cavity, but cavities are the most common dental problem that your dentist in Alexandria treats every single day. In fact, over 90% of Americans between 20-64 years old have had at least one cavity. What causes such a widespread problem? Well, it depends on a variety of factors, which we’ll explore in this blog. 

Tooth Decay

When we talk about cavities, we’re essentially talking about tooth decay. Tooth decay is a disease that wears down tooth enamel and can affect the inner workings of teeth –  including the dentin and the pulp. The deeper the decay goes, the more likely it is that you’ll experience symptoms. Decay can occur for a number of reasons, so it’s important to understand the causes so that you can take steps to prevent it.

  • Oral Hygiene

One of the main causes of decay and cavities is a result of poor oral hygiene. You should brush your teeth twice a day, morning and night. But brushing alone isn’t enough to fully protect your teeth. You should also floss in between each and every tooth every day. If you don’t floss, you’re missing out on cleaning a large portion of your teeth, and it can put you at risk for tooth decay. In fact, most adult cavities form in between teeth.

  • Sugar & Plaque & Bacteria, Oh My! 

The other main cause behind dental decay is a combination of what we eat and how our mouths react during digestion. Let’s take sugar as an example. While you may think that sugar causes cavities, your dentist in Alexandria wants you to know that that’s not entirely accurate. You see, it’s not the sugar that causes decay but rather how the sugar feeds bacteria that causes cavities. When we consume sugary foods or drinks, the bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugar and release an acidic byproduct. This acid attacks tooth enamel which can lead to erosion and, eventually, decay. 

Cavity Symptoms

There are times when you won’t even know that you have a cavity. This happens when the decay is in the early stages and it’s also when it’s the easiest for your dentist in Alexandria to treat. However, when the decay affects the inner tooth and hits the nerves, you may start to notice some common cavity symptoms, including: 

  • Increased sensitivity
  • Pain when biting down
  • Seemingly random tooth pain
  • Pain when eating sweets
  • Visible holes

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, call your dentist to schedule an appointment. 

The best way to prevent cavities requires a few different things. But the good news is, they’re all easy. Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist in Alexandria twice a year. Also, try to limit your intake of sugary treats and drinks to reduce the chance of cavities. 

Welcoming new patients from Alexandria, Old Town, Del Ray, and nearby communities. 


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