Truth About Cavities

As soon as people find out I'm a dentist in Burlington, a popular question I get asked is “why do I get so many cavities?”. The simple answer is – bacteria! Cavities are the result of growth of bacteria in the mouth – it is an infection! When certain types of bacteria grow, they secrete acid. This acid eats away at the enamel of the tooth until it reaches the dentin and creates a cavity.

Plaque that accumulates on your teeth contains millions of bacteria and food for them to grow. If the plaque remains, it will allow bacteria to grow and release acids that eat away at your teeth. So cleaning the plaque is very important. “But, I see the dentist every 6 months?” is the response I typically get. Your visit to the dentist is very important, but it is to remove the plaque that has hardened on your teeth. The most important aspect to preventing cavities is to prevent the constant growth of bacteria. There are two sides to this. Don't feed the bacteria and what does grow, remove it thoroughly and immediately.


Let's examine the first part. We all know that candies, pop, chocolate, etc are bad for us. This is because these foods contain a high content of sugars, primarily refined sugars. Sugar, or glucose, is a great food source for bacteria. The thing is, many of our foods contain sugar. Things like milk, bread, fruits, that healthy granola bar or energy bar, juices - the list goes on. They all contain sugar! Sugar is even put into many of the processed foods we eat.

How much sugar in our foods is important, but how often and how long sugar is available for bacteria is also important. If we snack throughout the day we feed are constantly feeding the bacteria. If food debris is left in between our teeth or stuck to the grooves of our teeth then this too will feed bacteria. This leads to the second point – removal of bacteria. The only way to remove bacteria is mechanical, that is brushing and flossing. This has proven to be the best and only way in preventing cavities. When we brush and floss this removes the plaque from our teeth along with food that may be left behind.

I know this is a very simplistic answer as there are other factors to look at when it comes to why some people are more prone to cavities than other, but the fact still is, if bacteria is allowed to grow in the mouth, you will get cavities. Our next posts will look at some of the other things to consider when caring for your teeth and preventing cavities.

Think you have a cavity but too anxious to get it fixed? Call us to see if sleep dentistry is right for you!

Dr. Toong