What Causes Tooth Decay?


Tooth decay is one of the most common dental issues dentists deal with. It is caused by acids that are present in a person's mouth. These acids can come from the foods being consumed by the person, or the bacteria that live in the mouth. These bacteria break down food particles into acids that eat away at the enamel of a person's teeth.

The bacteria that live in a person's mouth also create plaque; this is a thin, sticky film that houses bacteria and sugars that can be broken down into acids. Also, when plaque is left on a person's teeth for an extended period, it eventually calcifies and turns into tartar. This is a yellowish substance that is a haven for acid-producing bacteria. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing or flossing. A professional dental cleaning is necessary to get rid of it.



One of the most common reasons why people end up with tooth decay is poor oral hygiene. Not cleaning the mouth regularly means food particles, bacteria, and plaque get to accumulate on the person's teeth. This leads to increased production of acids in the person's mouth, and that eventually leads to the enamel of teeth becoming worn down. Once that occurs, it is only a matter of time before cavities and other issues created by tooth decay begin to show up.


Sugar is like kryptonite for teeth enamel. It is a highly acidic substance, and it damages teeth enamel. Sugar is also broken down into acids by the bacteria in the mouth. The worst part, sugar has a sticky nature, so it tends to cling tightly to teeth surfaces. That makes it harder for saliva, which serves as a natural mouth cleaner, to wash it away.

When people consume sugar, it is best to brush afterward or rinse the mouth vigorously with water.


Like many other parts of the body, teeth need certain minerals to ensure they remain healthy over the course of a person's life. Calcium and fluoride are two nutrients that are essential for healthy teeth. Calcium can be found in many grains, dairy products, and green leafy vegetables. Calcium helps to keep teeth and bones healthy.

Fluoride helps to re-mineralize teeth enamel, and it can be found in a wide range of dental products like toothpaste and mouthwashes. Most public water supplies are infused with fluoride.


Patients who fail to see a dentist at least twice a year are more vulnerable to tooth decay. During a checkup, the dentist will examine the patient for signs of any developing issues like tooth decay. If it is detected, it is treated in its early stages before significant damage is done. A dentist will also remove tartar from the patient's teeth with a cleaning. This protects teeth from decay.

If the dentist notices the patient is vulnerable to tooth decay, a fluoride treatment or varnish may be applied.


When was the last time you saw a dentist? Schedule an appointment with one of our oral specialists today.

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