You’ve probably heard it all your life: Eating sweets will rot your teeth. But while a diet high in sugar certainly promotes the formation of cavities, sugar itself isn’t the real culprit behind tooth decay. Continue reading to learn what does!

What Causes Cavities?

Dental cavities are formed when bacteria living in the mouth digest carbohydrate debris left on the teeth after you eat. Such debris might include the refined sugars found in cookies, candy and other treats, but can also come from healthy foods like whole grains, vegetables and fruits.

When digesting these carbohydrates, bacteria in your mouth produce an acid that combines with saliva to form plaque.

It’s plaque — not sugar — that leads to tooth decay. Plaque starts building up after every meal, and if it isn’t brushed away frequently, it can erode the hard, outer enamel of a tooth, resulting in tiny holes in the tooth’s surface. These holes mark the first stage of cavity formation.
Those tiny holes can do a lot of damage if left untreated. Eventually, the acid and bacteria in plaque can eat through the other layers of your teeth, as well — from the softer layer of teeth under the enamel, known as dentin, to the third layer (the pulp), which contains your teeth’s blood vessels and nerves. Cavities affecting the pulp of a tooth, as well as the bone supporting the tooth, can cause severe toothaches, sensitivity, pain when eating and abscesses in the mouth.

Need to Schedule an Appointment?

Do you think you may have a cavity? Schedule an appointment on our website or give us a call!

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