Cutting back on sugar can be difficult because it’s in so many foods and drinks, and sometimes in surprising amounts. But reducing your sugar intake or eliminating it from your diet altogether can certainly help your overall health as well as your dental health. After all, there’s a reason your dentist in Ann Arbor isn’t a huge fan of the stuff. Sugar is often considered the leading cause of cavities. But the truth is, even if you don’t eat sugar, you can still get cavities.
What Is a Cavity?
Cavities are so common in the United States that the CDC says 90% of Americans over the age of 20 have had at least one cavity in their lifetime. These tiny areas of tooth decay, if left untreated, will only become bigger and deeper and also become more difficult to treat. Cavities begin as a small hole or pit in a tooth where acid or bacteria has attacked the enamel. During this stage, cavities can easily be fixed with a filling from your dentist in Ann Arbor. However, cavities that continue to progress can sometimes require more complex treatment such as a root canal or even tooth extraction.
Surprising Things The Cause Cavities
We’ve already shared that many people think cavities are a problem of eating too much sugar, and while that may be the case, there are other reasons why a cavity develops.
- Dry Mouth
If a patient’s mouth is dry it’s more likely that they will have cavities. Usually, saliva will help neutralize acids and rinse away bacteria that can cause cavities. But when saliva production is too low and the mouth feels too dry, bacteria and acids are left lingering around to cause damage to the enamel and, you guessed it, cause cavities.
- Carbohydrates & Acids
Besides sugar, there are other foods that can increase the risk of cavities. The two most concerning are acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and foods with a lot of carbohydrates. Acidic foods and drinks further aid in the mouth acid’s ability to weaken enamel while carbs fuel the bacteria, allowing them to thrive.
- Bad Brushing or Flossing
There are many reasons why it’s important to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day, but one of the main reasons is to prevent cavities. Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night will remove plaque and plaque acids that have built up throughout the day. Flossing reaches those tricky areas that a toothbrush can’t reach and where cavities are more likely to develop.
Patients may experience different symptoms, but some of the most common signs of a cavity include:
- Pain when you bite
- Tooth sensitivity
- Brown, black, or white spots
- Pits or holes in a tooth
Even though cavities are incredibly common, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting one. Make sure you brush and floss your teeth regularly, limit your intake of sugary, acidic, or high-carbohydrate foods, and drink plenty of water daily. Of course, you should also see your dentist every six months for a checkup.
We’re always accepting new patients at all of our dental offices in Ann Arbor, Canton, Farmington Hills, and Livonia.