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How Does a Cavity Form?

How Does a Cavity Form? | @lakehillsortho | www.lakehillsortho.com

Tooth decay and cavities can happen to anyone, but if you wear braces, it’s especially important to be mindful of these dental issues. With braces, food can get caught where your toothbrush can’t reach and means some extra diligence to be thorough with your cleaning. This causes bacteria to build up that can lead to cavities, gingivitis and gum disease.

So just how does a cavity form? Read on for tips to keep your teeth clean and cavity-free while wearing braces.

What are cavities?

Bacteria cause cavities. A cavity is a hole in your tooth that is eroded into the surface by the by products of bacteria in your mouth. While some bacteria in your mouth is natural and healthy, other bacteria is destructive and produces an acid that melts away the enamel of your teeth.

How do cavities form?

All food contains sugars(carbohydrates) whether you’re eating broccoli or potato chips. The bacteria in your mouth but carbohydrates contain the most sugars, particularly sweet foods.

Any sugars you eat can stick to your teeth, which causes the bacteria in your mouth to react and form acid. Although your mouth naturally cleanses your mouth by way of saliva, it can’t wash away sticky sugars that are left behind after brushing.

When you brush your teeth twice a day, you’re aiming to wipe away these sugars. Consistently leaving behind even the thinnest film on your teeth – or biofilm – can cause damage to your enamel (decalcification). If tooth decay does break through the enamel, it’s likely a cavity will form. Learn more about how tooth decay develops here.

Where do cavities form?

Cavities form in areas that are tough to clean or are neglected when cleaned. It’s especially important for braces wearers to be mindful of how well they’re brushing their teeth. Frequently missing the same spot around your brackets or under wires can help cavities to form on chewing surfaces, between your teeth or along the gum line.

How can I prevent cavities?

Eating habits and dental hygiene play an important role in warding off cavities. Fortunately, tooth decay happens over time, which means you can get a leg up on preventing it by adopting some better habits now.

Here are some simple steps you can take:

  • Try to minimize the amount of bacteria in your mouth. Brushing your teeth and using mouthwash help to reduce the bacterial load in your mouth. You’ll never get rid of them completely, but over time the multiply exponentially.
  • Watch the acidic zone: Snacking throughout the day may help you keep hunger in check, but it also tends to decrease the pH of your mouth that promotes tooth decay. If you must eat 5-6 times a day, make sure to keep your teeth clean by brushing more than twice daily and drink water instead of soda.
  • Promote saliva production. Your mouth has a natural ability to neutralize some of the acids that show up after eating. By chewing gum or rinsing with mouthwash, you’ll increase the amount of saliva in your mouth.
  • Sip smarter. It’s good hydrate throughout the day, especially after you’ve worked out, but not all beverages are a good choice for your teeth. Sports drinks, sodas and other sugary beverages can affect the pH (or acidity) of your mouth. Click here for a closer look at the pH levels found in common foods.
  • Add an extra layer of protection. If you’re prone to getting cavities, talk to your dentist about protecting your teeth with sealants. This protective coating fills in the grooves of your teeth, which helps prevent bacteria and acids from sticking to them.

Over to You

What are your tips for maintaining a healthy and cavity-free mouth? Share your braces-friendly advice with us in the comments.




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