12 Causes of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the most common, non-transmittable health problem that afflicts about 2.8 billion people worldwide and continues to rise every year. At some point, most people have had at least one instance of tooth decay in their lives.

While some people believe tooth decay isn’t a big problem, it can actually result in serious health issues, like brain or heart infections, if not treated promptly. Thankfully, there are many ways to prevent cavities.

1. Improper Brushing

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Some people might find brushing teeth to be a taxing part of their hygiene routine, so they tend to do it quickly or sloppily without doing a thorough job. This, however, is one main cause of tooth decay, so it’s important to brush teeth regularly.

Poor brushing can lead to unpleasant consequences, like the following…

2. Plaque Formations 

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When you don’t clean your teeth well after eating sweet and starchy treats, bacteria feed on the remains and coat your teeth with dental plaque. This plaque can harden over time and can be difficult to clean off because of tartar formations. It also often leads to cavities.

But, that’s not the only damage plaque can do…

3. Plaque Attacks

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Dental plaque has acids that destroy the tooth’s external enamel. Once it wears off, it becomes prone to the acid and bacteria infiltrating its second layer called dentin, which is connected to the pulp. This eventually causes tooth sensitivity, which is usually a sign of tooth decay.

When it comes to brushing, every tooth matters, as this next cavity cause shows.

4. Not Brushing Far Back Enough

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Your back teeth, the molars and premolars, are usually more prone to tooth decay. Food tends to get stuck in them due to their shape and location, and it’s usually harder to reach and clean them, even with vigorous brushing.

This next factor shouldn’t come off as a surprise.

5. Consuming Certain Foods and Beverages

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Sugary, acidic, and starchy foods and drinks like ice cream, soda, coffee, pastries, candies, dried fruit, dry cereal, and potatoes usually trigger tooth decay. These foods can also induce sensitivity, wear down the enamel and even attract bacteria. So, it’s important to limit amount you consume of these foods and drinks and always brush your teeth after you do consume them.

Speaking of food, eating too much can do tooth damage, too.

6. Over-Snacking

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While it’s not bad to indulge yourself by eating comfort foods, eating an unhealthy amount of them, especially if all at once, can hasten tooth decay. Furthermore, frequent consumption of sugary and acidic beverages can also speed up tooth decay.

Adults and children aren’t the only ones that cavities can impact, as the next risk factor explains.

7. Infant Feeding At Night

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Baby bottle tooth decay can affect babies and children who are fed from the bottle. Aside from foods, drinks like milk, juice and other sugar-laced beverages can remain on babies’ teeth for hours as they sleep, allowing tooth decay-causing bacteria to grow inside.

Again, if you’re not brushing your teeth, this next factor may come in to play.

8. Lack Of Fluoride

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Fluoride is an inorganic mineral, and it’s usually a common ingredient found in toothpaste, mouthwashes, and even added to water systems. A lack of fluoride can leave the teeth exposed to bacteria and eventual tooth decay, which is why it’s so important to consistently brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste.

Not all things are in our control when it comes to health, though.

9. Age

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One might think that only kids are prone to tooth decay, but research shows that adults are at an even higher risk due to aging, which causes teeth to deteriorate over time. And, habits such as smoking, crushing ice and playing sports without a mouth guard can cause even more damage.

As it turns out, hydration is key when it comes to preventing cavities.

10. Dry Mouth 

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Saliva helps wash away food and plaque from the teeth and the acid from oral bacteria. Taking certain medications or undergoing medical procedures like chemotherapies can lessen saliva production, leaving your teeth more vulnerable. So, it’s important to stay hydrated.

All health conditions have their consequences sooner or later, as this next cause shows.

11. Heartburn 

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Heartburn causes acid reflux, which is when stomach acids move up to the esophagus. Vomiting can cause these acids to enter the mouth, and as a result, wear away the enamel of the teeth and cause serious damage.

Vomiting can be a result of other health conditions, like the following, that can also negatively impact tooth health.

12. Eating Disorders 

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People who suffer from eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia often suffer from tooth decay. As in the previous cause, stomach acids from vomiting (by purging) breaks down the enamel and subsequently cause tooth decay.


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