What Are Cavities?According to the Canadian Dental Association, “A cavity is a very small hole that forms on the surface of a tooth. Cavities are caused when sugars in the food we eat and bacteria in our mouths mix together, producing a mild acid that eats away at the outer layer of our teeth (called enamel).”
How Are They Formed?Many factors play a role in the creation of cavities. Though it might be frustrating to constantly hear your dentist remind you of the importance of daily brushing and flossing, it’s all for a very good reason. There are few stages of cavity formation, beginning with plaque formation. When you consume drinks and foods that contain lots of sugar, strains of bacteria thrive. If you aren’t a regular brusher or you forget to clean the sugar off your teeth, acid is produced. The combination of bacteria and acids forms plaque, which covers your teeth. After the plaque forms, acids start to wear away your enamel. Enamel is your tooth’s outer surface and without it, your teeth are unprotected. The first visible sign of cavities are tiny openings in the enamel. Having a hole in your tooth opens an entryway for more bacteria, which can later turn into a brown mush that needs to be removed by a dentist. Starchy foods that contain carbohydrates and sugar are leading causes of cavities. Here are a few to avoid on your next trip to the grocery store:
- Apples: An apple day doesn’t only keep the doctor away, it also can help prevent cavities. Though fresh fruits contain a high amount of natural sugar, they can also stimulate saliva flow. The extra saliva can help lower bacteria levels.
- Sugar-Free Gum: “Sugar-free” may not sound inviting to your taste buds, but we recommend trying this gum. Not only does it have xylitol, which can fight cavity-building bacteria, but it also is a great substitute for sugar.
- Green/Black Tea: Rather than grabbing a can of coke, try to switch to tea. It can help reduce cavities by inhibiting bacteria and stopping plaque build-up.