The Science Behind Cavities: Causes and Prevention

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The Science Behind Cavities

People of all ages are susceptible to cavities, sometimes referred to as dental caries or tooth decay. Although cavities can seem like an ordinary problem, their causes and prevention are the subject of fascinating science. We’ll delve into the complex world of cavities in this blog post, examining the science behind what the causes are and how to prevent them. It is also important to consult with a dentist in SE Calgary for more comprehensive and detailed information. 

The Structure of a Tooth

We must first comprehend the fundamental anatomy of a tooth in order to comprehend cavities. The layers of a tooth are as follows:

  • Enamel: Enamel, the outermost covering, is the body’s toughest and most mineralized tissue. It serves as a barrier to safeguard the tooth’s inner layers.
  • Dentin: Beneath the enamel lies the dentin, a porous tissue that’s less hard than enamel but still vital for tooth strength.
  • Pulp: The pulp, which is the deepest layer, is where the blood vessels and nerves are located. It connects the tooth to the rest of the body.

Understanding Cavities

Cavities develop when the enamel, the teeth’s outermost layer of protection, gets damaged by acids produced by oral bacteria. Microbes thrive on the carbohydrates and starches in our meals, creating acids that gradually erode tooth enamel. Cavities that are not addressed can spread further into the tooth, resulting in discomfort, infection, and even tooth loss.

The Science of Cavity Formation

  • Acid Production: Your mouth’s bacteria break down sugar into acids, which lower the pH level and create an acidic environment.
  • Demineralization: By eliminating important minerals like calcium and phosphate, acid weakens tooth enamel and causes demineralization.
  • Plaque Formation: Dental plaque, a sticky, colorless film on teeth, is created when bacteria, acid, and food fragments combine together.
  • Cavity Development: Cavities can develop after multiple acid attacks. When the enamel deteriorates, the bacteria get deeper inside the tooth.

The Science Behind Cavities

Cavities develop when the tooth’s structure breaks down, primarily as a result of the actions of bacteria in your mouth. Here’s how it happens:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, can build up on the teeth as a result of insufficient brushing and flossing. Cavities can develop as a result of this plaque’s tendency to harden into tartar over time.

Bacterial Action

There are numerous types of bacteria living in our mouths, some of which can be dangerous. These bacteria consume the sugars and carbs in the food we eat. Acids are produced as a result of the digestion of these carbohydrates.

Acid Attack

Your mouth becomes extremely acidic due to the acids these bacteria produce. The enamel, your teeth’s exterior layer of protection, can be worn away by this acid. The tooth’s structure is weakened by enamel degradation, which leaves it vulnerable to cavities.

Plaque Formation

Plaque is a sticky coating that bacteria create on your teeth. A biofilm known as plaque harbors harmful bacteria and has the potential to accelerate dental infection.


Enamel starts to lose minerals like calcium and phosphate when it is exposed to acids. The demineralization process causes the enamel to develop microscopic holes or cavities.

Ways to Prevent Cavities

Effective prevention of cavities requires an understanding of the science behind them. Here are several methods to help you prevent dental caries, each of which are supported by science:

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

You can prevent cavities by regularly cleaning and flossing your teeth. While flossing helps clean between teeth, which your toothbrush can’t get, brushing eliminates plaque and bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth.


Natural mineral fluoride helps to fortify tooth enamel and increase its resistance to acid attacks. Fluoride is widely used in toothpaste and mouthwash to protect teeth.

Balanced Diet

Limit your intake of foods and beverages that are high in sugar and acid. Choose a healthy, calcium- and phosphate-rich diet to help your teeth remineralize.

Dental Check-ups

Regular visits to the dentist for teeth cleanings and checkups in SE Calgary are crucial for early cavity detection. Your dentist can identify and treat cavities early, preventing them from worsening.

Dental Sealants

The chewing surfaces of molars and premolars, where cavities are most likely to develop, are protected with dental sealants. They add an additional line of defense against acids and bacteria.

Cavities can be widespread, but with the appropriate information and routines, they can often be prevented. And, should you have difficulties or concerns about anything, please reach out to a dentist near you

Visit Our Local Dental Clinic: Your Source for Comprehensive Cavity Knowledge and Exceptional Care

Right here at Inglewood Family Dental, you can rely on us to provide you with quality treatments and thorough knowledge. Our dedicated team of professionals is committed to providing you with quality dental services, including teeth cleanings and checkups near you. We are here to help you every step of the way.  Allow us to guide you on a path towards optimal dental hygiene and wellness. 

Schedule your appointment today!