Often patients feel disappointed when they find out that they have a cavity during their periodic dental visit. This occurs despite what they claim as good oral hygiene practice.
So is it possible to get a cavity even if someone practices excellent oral hygiene?
The answer is yes and no. Let’s go over some basics before we explore the answers.
A cavity forms when bacteria present on the surface of a tooth consumes sugar and produces acid as a byproduct. The acid erodes the tooth surface creating a cavitation. This in turn allows more colonization and more acid production and eventual growth of the cavity. Let’s examine in more detail why a cavity develops.
For a cavity to develop we need three things. The host site which in this case would be a tooth, bacteria, and sugar. If we eliminate one of these a cavity will not develop. Realistically, it is impossible to eliminate even a single one of these. We would like to keep our teeth for life which provides a host site for the bacteria. Our mouth cannot be sterilized, and even if you could sterilize them, constant consumption of food and exposure to the environment will reintroduce microorganisms. The third factor is the presence of sugar. In this case, sugar means any form of simple carbohydrate that are easily digested by bacteria. This includes a wide range of products available at the supermarket today. Bacteria like simple sugars because they are easier to digest. These are commonly found in soda drinks, cereal, baked goods, and anything else we to which we add sugar.
To reduce the number of cavities that we get we need to reduce one or more of the three factors needed for a cavitation to develop. This translates to good oral hygiene (to reduce the number of bacteria present), and reduced sugar intake. My Mount Pleasant dentist mentions this every time I visit. I wonder why. Do your dentists get on your case too? Consumption of less processed foods can also be of benefit. Complex carbohydrates take more energy and time to digest, which means less exposure to simple sugars in the oral cavity.
Sometimes even with excellent oral hygiene we can still get cavities. This can be due to the anatomy of teeth. Deep grooves, irregularities in the structure of teeth, large gaps between teeth that collect food, and microscopic cracks in the surface of a tooth can lead to collection of bacteria and formation of a cavitation. This is why regular dental visits are very important. Usually these small cavities can be monitored for further growth and dealt with when necessary.
To summarize, cavities can occur in different situations. There are certain steps we can take to reduce the chances of getting cavitations. These include regular dental prophylaxis (cleaning), regular checkups, good oral hygiene, reduced sugar intake and any other aids that will protect teeth.