7 Cavity Culprits

7 Cavity Culprits

We’ve been taught (basically since birth) that sugar and a lack of brushing are the main villains behind corrupting our teeth with cavities, but they’re certainly not the only contributors. Here are seven surprising culprits behind developing cavities and how to avoid them. 


Diet

Of course, sugar is one of the worst culprits when it comes to enamel care (and the most commonly known), but it’s not the only one. Other refined carbohydrates, processed foods, and acidic foods can all lead to cavities. It’s not just the bad things in our diet that can cause cavities. Oftentimes, it’s what’s missing from our diets that is the problem. For example, calcium is a key nutrient for healthy bones and teeth. However, without adequate amounts of vitamins A, D, and K2, calcium will not be deposited where it needs to go, no matter how much of it you consume. 


Although most Americans get adequate amounts of vitamin A from food, almost everyone is significantly deficient in vitamins D and K2 because of our lifestyles and changes in our modern diets. Vitamin D helps transport calcium from your intestines, and vitamin K2 helps activate the proteins needed to pull the calcium from the blood and direct it into your teeth and bones. Without sufficient amounts of these nutrients, your teeth will not be able to grow healthy and adequately protect themselves against damage.11

 

pH balance

pH is a measurement that allows us to know if a solution is acidic or alkaline. It ranges from one (acidic) to 14 (alkaline) with seven being neutral. What you put in your mouth, and how often, affects the delicate pH balance of your oral microbiome. Eating acidic foods and sugar are just two ways that we disrupt the pH balance, but smoking, drugs, and using harsh toothpastes and mouthwashes also tilt the balance toward the acidic, allowing the bad microbes to multiply. The more alkaline your saliva, the more it favors the “good” bacteria, and the more acidic the pH is, the more the “bad” microbes thrive.

 

Lack of saliva

Dry mouth affects about a third of the population, and most people suffer from it at some point. Some causes are mouth-breathing, medical issues, medications, poor diet, and stress.

 

Genetics

Even though people commonly blame their ancestors for their oral health problems, only 10 percent have genetic causes. Ninety percent of all cavities are related to the environment or are associated with oral care, which means they are controlled by us.

 

Antibiotics

Antibiotics, antibacterial products, and potent essential oils can decimate the oral microbiome.

 

Poor oral care routine

Poor brushing and flossing can result in biofilm that becomes too thick, turning into tartar or calculus, which tilts the balance from oxygen-dependent aerobic bacteria to opportunistic and aggressive anaerobic bacteria.

 

Harmful oral care products

Many oral care products indiscriminately kill the oral microbiome, disrupting the delicate balance. They may transform beneficial microbes into a pathogenic state or allow new, more opportunistic ones to take hold. The need for this delicate microbiome balance is why you should use caution using random, over-the-counter toothpastes and mouthwashes, especially those that contain antibacterial ingredients or alcohol.


But wait, there’s good news! 


Just as the oral microbiome can shift from healthy to unhealthy, that pattern can also be reversed with simple changes such as having a great oral care routine at home and maintaining regular visits to your dentist. We now understand more than ever about the various mouth microbes and what they do, and with that knowledge, comes power.