What Exactly is a Cavity and How Do You Prevent Them?

For most of us, one memory we always have is the whirring sound of a dental drill working on a tooth cavity. Typically, it is not the greatest experience, but it is important. Taking care of our teeth at an early age helps to ensure we age with a full set of teeth.

Have you ever wondered exactly what a cavity is and how it can be prevented? Inside this article, we will explain exactly what cavities are, how they happen, and what you can do to prevent them.

What Are They?

It is important to know what a cavity is to understand how to prevent and treat it. Technically speaking, a cavity is ‘a permanently damaged area in the hard enamel of your tooth that eventually develops into tiny openings or holes.’ Cavities are also known as tooth decay and eventually require a dentist visit.

Cavities can become extremely painful or eventually lead to removal if not treated. So, it is important to understand some steps we can take to help prevent cavities. In addition, cavities are most likely to form in the back teeth, the molars, and the premolars due to the many uneven surfaces ideal for bacteria to grow, feeding on trapped food particles.

Rinse Mouth After Acidic Food

One of the first steps to understanding what exactly is a cavity while understanding cavity prevention is to always rinse the mouth after eating acidic food. When ingesting acidic food, we may sense pain in our teeth or eventually, if left on our teeth, begin to decay the enamel. Rinsing after acidic food, we help prevent cavities from forming or visiting the family dental office.

Some of the benefits of rinsing the mouth after eating acidic foods are:

  • Rinsing will dilute the acids collecting in your mouth
  • Bring the acids left on the teeth back to a more normal pH level
  • Washes away residual food from the teeth to lessen a source for bacteria to attack
  • Helps to begin the rebuilding of tooth enamel
  • Rinses away residual food or beverage acids that eventually can soften tooth enamel


What is the big deal with flossing, and what exactly is flossing? Flossing is one of the best actions to keep teeth in good condition. Flossing is critical in cavity prevention by removing plaque and debris from areas around teeth a toothbrush can’t reach. Keeping the teeth clean helps prevent tooth decay and understand what a cavity is.

By flossing regularly, you will be removing bacteria and acids from your teeth, which eventually can cause tooth decay, leading to cavities. Removing food from your teeth helps to eliminate the food bacteria feed on that leads to cavities and visits to dentist offices.

Avoid Too Much Sugar

Sugar should be an important topic in the conversation When thinking about what a cavity is and how it forms. Sugar is a bad bacteria magnet that will zero in on the residual sugar from food on the teeth. When bad bacteria attack, the sugar is broken down to acid, which begins attacking tooth enamel and may eventually cause a cavity.

When ingesting sugar, the mouth’s pH level is lowered and becomes too inviting for bacteria not to attack. Sugar has other methods entering your mouth besides eating sugary foods. These sources include sugary soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and other liquids with a high sugar concentration. In addition to containing high sugar levels, they also contain acids, which become a bad combination for your teeth and will immediately begin to work on breaking the tooth down.

After consuming any of these products, rinse well, at least, because we don’t want to wear adult braces for our teeth.

Avoid Smoking

You can think of somebody with darkened tobacco stains on their teeth. The stain is a sticky mixture of tar and nicotine residue from tobacco smoke or chewing tobacco juice sticking to the teeth. The residue is absorbed into the small pores in the enamel to create a stained appearance that immediately stands out when the mouth is opened.

Smoking contributes to many other health issues besides stained teeth. Among the more impactful are causing gum recession due to infections and bacteria, ultimately leading to gum disease and tooth decay. Additionally, smoking dulls the senses of taste and smell, discolors the tongue, and leads to halitosis.

Ultimately, the immune system may be affected, causing more damage to the mouth and teeth, and we now understand what exactly is a cavity. Receding gums may cause the teeth to be misaligned, requiring solutions like Invisalign for teeth alignment.

Drink Water

Dehydration is an enemy of the mouth and teeth, and tobacco is a huge contributor to dehydration. The toxins found in smoking tobacco affect and restrict saliva output. If you smoke, brushing, flossing, and drinking plenty of water are recommended.

Drinking fluoridated water is one of the easiest and most natural methods to fight cavities. Water that has fluoride added helps fight tooth decay, and studies have indicated that added fluoride to water has reduced tooth decay by 25%. This is sure to help you fight against cavities and keep your teeth healthy.

Flossing and brushing teeth should be conducted twice daily, and drinking 3.7 liters a day for men and 2.7 liters for women to flush the mouth and improve your oral health care. Drinking pure residential well water has never tasted so good, but don’t forget the fluoride.

Practice Good Hygiene

Practicing good dental hygiene prevents oral disease that can lead to other health problems. Dental problems can lead to pain, tooth loss, and massive infection. When cruising the internet, we often discover a web design for a healthy living website. This website may extol the benefit of good oral health and its role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle by practicing preventative dental care.

Typically, some good dental hygiene practices for preventing what exactly is a cavity are:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride using a soft bristle brush
  • Remove plaque between your teeth by flossing twice a day
  • Rinse away food particles and bacteria with an anti-cavity fluoride mouthwash
  • Follow a healthy diet and limit or eliminate sugary drinks and food
  • Visit your dentist regularly for cleaning and checkup

Sugar Free Gum

Often, when we finish a meal and have no access to a toothbrush, chewing sugar-free gum may provide some protection for the teeth. If the toothbrush is unavailable, saliva production can be increased to help clean the teeth by chewing sugar-free gum.

Although most sugar-free gum is harmless in producing saliva, be aware some sugar-free gums are acidic and may have preservatives that can eventually cause dental decay, leading to a cavity. Sugar-free gums are as healthy for your teeth as drinking pure water via residential well drilling. Once we understand what exactly a cavity is and how to prevent it, our health is greatly improved.


Once we understand what exactly a cavity is, then it is easier to understand the benefits of brushing our teeth. Brushing our teeth removes plaque, eventually leading to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. In addition, brushing the teeth helps to prevent gingivitis, gum disease, and cavities.

If you are connected to residential water plumbed by water well drilling, it will be important to have the number of a good plumber. For proper prevention of dental decay and cavities, it is important to have clean, fresh water for our daily dental hygiene activities.

Lesser Known Remedies

These preventative measures for combating tooth decay are less well-known than other treatments.

  • Drinking green or black teas instead of coffee to fight plaque since they are less acidic than coffee.
  • After drinking alcohol, rinse or brush your teeth, as alcohol typically has a high sugar content.
  • Drinking through a straw will help minimize damage to teeth
  • Discontinue drinking soda or other sugary drinks to protect the tooth enamel
  • Saliva is your friend fighting plaque acids due to containing calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate to neutralize plaque acids.
  • Chew sugar-free gum, especially gum containing xylitol, to stimulate saliva production and kill bacteria. Sugar-free gum has proven to reduce tooth decay by 40%, so always have gum with you.

Common Risk Factors for Cavities

There are several ways tooth decay and cavities can happen. Among the most prominent influencers for tooth decay are:

  • Plaque – Dental plaque is a sticky film that coats your teeth due to eating a lot of starches and sugars. Bacteria quickly attack the food remnants to begin geeing formin plaque, and if not removed quickly, they can harden at the gum line and become tartar. If the plaque is not taken care of and left alone to harden, it becomes much more difficult to remove and acts as a protective shield for bacteria.
  • Not brushing often with fluoride – Immediately after eating, brush your teeth before plaque can grow, and use fluoride toothpaste. Also, remember drinking water from the city water system typically contains fluoride, but most bottled water does not.
  • Dry mouth – A condition with a lack of saliva production necessary to remove food particles and plaque from your teeth. In addition, saliva has some substances that help to counteract the acid created by bacteria for breaking down a tooth’s enamel. Certain medical procedures, medications, or radiation or chemotherapy drugs can increase the possibility of dry mouth.
  • Acid reflux or heartburn – This condition allows stomach acid to flow into your mouth (acid reflux), which eventually can wear away teeth enamel, ultimately causing major damage to your teeth. The reflux wears away the tooth’s dentin layer, inviting bacteria to attack it and feed on the exposed areas with a loss of enamel.
  • Acid created by heartburn and acid reflux begins to eat away the enamel on the back teeth and the inside of the tooth first. The hard enamel that protects the softer inner tissue is eroded, allowing bacteria to destroy the tooth.
  • Eating disorders – If you have an issue with bulimia or anorexia and repeatedly vomit or purge your stomach, it can cause damage to your teeth. The repeated washing of stomach acids over your teeth will eventually wear the tooth enamel down, exposing it to cavities. Also, this condition can affect the production of salvia.
  • Infant feeding – When babies are given bottles filled with juice, milk, formula, or other sugary mixtures, the liquid contents stay on their teeth for hours while sleeping. The tooth decay bacteria remain on the teeth and ultimately can cause a condition called ‘baby bottle tooth decay.’ This condition can also be caused by babies carrying sippy cups with the same sugary liquids.

Five Stages of Tooth Decay

Typically, tooth decay progresses through the following five stages.

  1. Demineralization – Tooth enamel minerals, mostly calcium, begin to diminish due to acid attack and plaque buildup.
  2. Enamel decay – Damaged tooth enamel begins with white spots or a cavity forming.
  3. Dentin decay – Decay extends down to the dentin, the tissue beneath the hard enamel, which can cause sharp pain and sensitivity.
  4. Pulp damage – The decay begins to affect the pulp, the soft tissue found in the tooth, which ultimately leads to infection and inflammation.
  5. Dental abscess – A puss-filled pocket forms when the infection travels to the tooth’s root.

New Dental Techniques

These are some more promising techniques and solutions for fighting tooth decay.

  • Protective membrane – Inserting a new, thin membrane between the inflamed tooth and gum to promote healing.
  • Self-repairing tooth gel – A new calcium and phosphate gel that promotes self-repairing teeth.
  • Laser light regeneration – Using low-power laser light to encourage tooth regeneration.
  • New dental technology – New dental technology includes intraoral cameras, TRIOS scanners, and SCHICK Dental Sensors.
  • Although tooth decay resulting in cavities still threatens our health, new techniques, treatments, and awareness are slowly turning the fight for healthy teeth in our favor. If we follow the suggestions within this article, our teeth will be in better shape, and consequently, our entire body’s health will improve. Proper dental care of our teeth improves our lifestyle and enjoyment of life

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