Why am I starting to get cavities all of the sudden?
There are lots of misconceptions regarding cavities, how they are caused, how to prevent them, and how to fix them once you have them. A tooth cavity or tooth decay is when the tooth has been eaten away by bacteria. More specifically, the bacteria produce acid as a by-product and the acid eats away and dissolves the tooth. This dissolved tooth becomes soft and weak and is prone to more decay if left alone. Just how our bodies produce lactic acid when we workout, the bacteria in our mouths produce acid when they eat, and what they eat is sugar. This is why sugar is so bad for your teeth, the sugar itself doesn't damage your teeth at all, but it feeds the bacteria which in turn create acids that cause tooth decay and tooth cavities.
The amount of time that sugar is in your mouth is also important for dental cavities, the longer the sugar is in your mouth the longer the bacteria will eat for and the more acid they will produce. This is why snacking over long periods of time isn't recommended because the mouth doesn't have a chance the neutralize itself. Our saliva is our best neutralizer and does well against the bacterial acids, but when we constantly snack, or constantly sip on a drink that has sugar or is acidic itself we don't give our saliva and teeth a chance to fight back.
The amount of saliva that we have also has a large effect on how prone we are to getting cavities, if we are dehydrated, stressed, aging, or starting to take a medication that lowers the amount of saliva produced we are getting rid of our bodies main defense against cavities. If you notice that you are getting dry mouth, go to the best dentist near you and they can prescribe you rinses, gum, or medication that will help increase you salivary flow. At our cosmetic dental practice in Huntington Beach, we sometimes prescribe medications but often prefer xylitol gum and oral rinses to treat dry mouth.
The last important caveat to dental cavities and tooth decay is that the type of bacteria actually matters. And when you get cavities, the bacteria that cause cavities end up taking over and growing in abundance. Why this is important is because these bacteria can be transferred through saliva. At our dental office we recommend that parents not share their toothbrushes with their children because the parents’ cavity prone bacteria can be passed to the kids and make them more prone to get tooth decay.
If you do get a dental cavity, find the best dentist near you to help you take care of it. Because a cavity is dissolved and decayed tooth structure, it cannot fix itself. What your dentist will do it carefully remove the soft, diseased, tooth structure and will then seal the inside of your tooth with filling material.