Tooth cavities can be caused by many factors that influence each other. In addition, there are many risk factors that can lead to tooth decay. Here is a further explanation of the causes of cavities, so that you better understand this very common disease.
Causes of cavities that you need to recognize
Plaque is the main factor that causes cavities. Dental plaque is a sticky substance that sticks to the surface of the teeth. Plaque is a combination of bacteria, saliva, acids, and food scraps. When you eat sugary foods or drinks and don't clean them properly, the leftovers can build up and stick to the surface of your teeth. By the bacteria present in the oral cavity, the remaining sugar will be converted into acid, which will form on the surface of the teeth as soon as you eat or drink. Slowly but surely, the acid contained in plaque will erode the outer surface of the tooth (enamel). If your teeth are not cleaned regularly or how you brush your teeth is wrong, then plaque will still stick to the teeth and continue to erode the surface of the teeth. The plaque can appear all over the tooth surface and will disappear after you brush your teeth. However, sometimes there are areas of the teeth that are difficult to clean, such as between the teeth or in the grooves on the upper surface of the molars. Because of this, cavities generally form in both areas. In addition to damaging the surface of the enamel, the bacteria on the plaque will continue to eat away at the tooth to the layer underneath, namely the dentin. When the cavity has reached the dentin, that's where the pain will arise. Bacteria can also spread further to the layer of the tooth beneath the dentin, which is the location of the tooth nerve, and can cause the tooth nerve to become infected to death.
Risk Factors for Cavities
Everyone has a risk of having cavities. However, the factors below can increase this risk.
1. Location and arrangement of teeth
As mentioned above, cavities generally occur in the molars. Because on the surface of the tooth, there are many grooves that are difficult to reach by a toothbrush. In people with crowded teeth, the risk of cavities also increases, because many areas of the tooth are covered by other teeth, making it difficult to clean.
2. Sweet Foods and Drinks
Sweet foods and drinks such as ice cream, candy, soda, or honey, can stick to the surface of the teeth for a long time. This is because these foods and drinks have a sticky consistency, making it more difficult for saliva to remove them as a natural tooth cleaning mechanism. Sugar is also the main food for bacteria that cause cavities. These bacteria will continue to produce acids that can damage teeth.
3. Habits of Eating Before Bed
In babies and children, drinking milk before bed without cleaning it first after finishing, is a habit that can cause cavities. The remains of milk that are not cleaned during sleep will be turned into acid by bacteria that cause cavities.
4. How To Brush Your Teeth Wrong
If you are not diligent in brushing your teeth after eating, plaque can build up on the surface of your teeth. You also need to pay attention to how to brush your teeth properly, so that your teeth can be cleaned perfectly.
5. Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva in the oral cavity. In fact, saliva plays an important role in preventing cavities. Saliva has a function as a natural cleanser in the oral cavity.
6. Certain Diseases
Diseases such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or eating disorders can also be risk factors for cavities. In people with GERD, stomach acid can rise into the oral cavity, causing the oral cavity to become acidic. Likewise with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
Recognizing the causes of cavities and risk factors can make you more careful in maintaining healthy teeth and mouth. Don't forget to regularly check the condition of your teeth and mouth to the dentist, at least every 6 months.