22 August 2020

What causes tooth decay and cavities?


How does dental decay develop?

Tooth decay is the destruction of enamel, which is the outer white layer of the teeth. When a tooth is constantly exposed to the acid, which is the product of reaction between sugars in food/drinks and bacteria, the enamel starts to deteriorate. 

Early sign of decay can be seen as a white spots which then transform into a cavity or a hole in your teeth over time.

Call us on (03) 9459 6300 or make an appointment online to get a stress-free assessment from one of our gentle and trusted dentists.

Are some people more prone to dental cavities?

There are a few factors that can contribute to dental decay.

  • Genetic factors (yes dental issues can run in the family)
  • Diet that consists of lots of sticky food, sugary snacks and drinks, soda and acidic drinks
  • Frequent snacking or sipping without brushing or mouthwashing afterwards
  • Dry mouth (low quantity of saliva cannot effectively wash away food and plaque from your teeth)
  • Inadequate brushing
  • Old dental fillings (worn dental fillings create rough edges allowing plaque to build up easily)
  • Heartburn (stomach acid can wear away the outer layer of tooth)
  • Not getting enough fluoride (fluoride helps prevent cavities and can reverse early signs of decay)

Now, many of these are very generic symptoms or situations so it's difficult to pinpoint the cause of your decay or cavities without actually looking in your mouth.

Thankfully, our gentle dentists use modern, digital dental practices to get a clear understanding of what might be causign your teeth to decay. This then means that you can potentially take your pick from a proven range of treatments dental for decay and cavities.

Make an appointment online to get a stress-free assessment and your personalised treatment options from one of our gentle and trusted dentists.

How does frequent snacking affect your teeth?

Saliva in our oral cavity continuously try to neutralize the acids produced by bacteria and carbohydrates. A Resting pH (6.7-7.3) in the oral cavity is maintained by saliva. 

However, the pH drops when a certain amount of carbohydrateor sugar is consumed, and enamel demineralisation occurs if it drops below a pH of 5.5. It takes about 30 mins to go back to neutral. 

If the oral cavity is frequently exposed to carbohydrates, this creates a continual acid bath over your teeth.

Therefore itsbetter to eat sugary sweets in one go instead of frequently throughout the day

How to prevent dental caries?

Good dental hygiene can help you avoid unpleasant situations. Here are some easy tips to make sure you minimise your chances of having to find an emergency dentist at the worst possible time:

  • Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Drink tap water (bottle water doesn’t contain fluoride)
  • Avoid frequent snacking and sipping
  • Visit dentist regularly
  • Apply tooth mousse if needed
  • Consider Fissure sealants if you have deep grooves

A part of good dental hygiene is ensuring that you have a personal dental and smile health plan set and agreed with your dentist.  

When do I need to see a dentist?

Book a dental appointment as soon as possible if you have any of these worrying symptoms:

  • A toothache
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks
  • Black, brown or white stains on your tooth surface
  • Got food stuck between your teeth
  • Pain on biting or chewing

These symptoms often indicate deeper dental issues. The good news is that they can usually be treated using modern, digital dental practices, if assessed quickly by one of our gentle dentists.


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