The top five things that cause cavities

From childhood, we have it drummed into us that we need to brush and floss regularly to prevent cavities from forming. Most of us also grow up knowing sugar is bad for our teeth and that we shouldn’t eat too much of it if we want to keep our teeth cavity-free. While these facts may sound familiar, are you aware of why brushing and flossing and avoiding sugar help avoid cavities? Our dental practice takes patient education seriously, and we thought you might be interested to learn why and understand your dental care more fully. Listed below are the top five things that can cause cavities.


Did you know your mouth is host to hundreds of different strains of bacteria? The majority are harmless, but not all. These harmful bacteria feed on leftover food particles after eating. The food allows them to thrive, and as they do so, they produce a weak acid that attacks your tooth enamel. The acid removes certain minerals from your teeth, including phosphorus and calcium. Repeated exposure to this acid eventually causes cavities. The effect worsens if you have large numbers of these bacteria in your mouth, which can occur if you fail to brush and floss regularly. Most bacteria are kept under control through regular brushing and flossing, but their numbers will keep building up if you fail to follow a good oral care routine.


Sugar tastes good, and it is the preferred food choice for harmful bacteria who feast on sugary leftovers. A short while after eating something sugary, these bacteria will consume the leftover sugars, producing acid that weakens your tooth enamel. The more frequently you eat something rich in sugars, the more often your teeth are exposed to acid and the higher the risk of cavities.

Dental plaque

The harmful bacteria that cause cavities are found in dental plaque, a sticky colourless biofilm that forms over the surface of your teeth. The whole purpose of regularly brushing and flossing your teeth is to remove plaque build-up as otherwise, it hardens into tartar, at which stage it can only be removed when you visit our hygienist. The more dental plaque and tartar coating your teeth, the greater your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.

Medical problems

Certain medical conditions can increase the risk of poor oral health. These include acid reflux, where strong stomach acid flows upwards into your throat and mouth, coating your teeth and eroding them. Diabetes can make it harder to fight infection, increasing the risk of problems like gum disease. Often, prescription and over-the-counter medicines can cause dry mouth, a condition where you don’t produce enough saliva. You need plenty of saliva to help wash away bacteria and excess food particles.


If your teeth don’t bite together properly, it can cause parafunction, and bruxism or teeth grinding and clenching is a good example. If you clench and grind your teeth, it can quickly wear down tooth enamel. Without the protective layer of tooth enamel, bacteria can more easily penetrate your teeth, causing cavities.

May, 03, 2022