What Causes Tooth Decay?

Cartoon image of 3 teeth with different stages of tooth decay

Your mouth contains many types of bacteria. Some are good and some are not so good. The harmful bacteria, which live in a sticky film called plaque, feed on the sugar in food and drinks. When plaque hardens, it becomes tartar. Both plaque and tartar increase your risk of tooth decay and gum inflammation. When the bacteria in plaque and tartar eat sugar, they produce acid that erodes the enamel of your tooth. Eventually, you end up with a hole, which is called a cavity.

Dietary Sugar

Bacteria enjoy all sugar, which includes carbs found in foods like candy, cookies, and other treats, as well as bread, pasta, rice, and fruit. It’s unhealthy to cut all carbs from your diet, so you technically can’t avoid feeding cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth. However, you can reduce your intake of foods that are high in added sugar and/or low in nutrients. It’s also best to drink water whenever possible instead of soda and juice.

Frequent Snacking

Does your child graze throughout the day? This increases their risk for cavities. Grazing on snacks like crackers, fruit, or other sugary, carb-heavy foods coats their teeth in sugar, providing a constant buffet for cavity-causing bacteria in their mouth. Even if they’re eating “healthier” foods, they could be raising their risk for decay. When a child cuts down on snacking, their mouth gets a chance to neutralize the acid.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay

Daily brushing and flossing, in addition to regular cleanings at the dentist, are essential to preventing tooth decay. Teaching a child how to take care of their teeth isn’t always easy, but it’s one of the best things you can for their health do as a parent. Our dentists love working with kids and providing preventive care and more to help them achieve healthy smiles. If you have any questions about cavities or any of our services, please contact us today!

Image from Authority Dental under CC 2.0

Austin Pearls Pediatric Dentistry

Austin Pearls Pediatric Dentistry