What Causes Cavities?
If you’re wondering, “How do cavities form?” you’re not alone. It’s a question that is often thrown into search engines and bounced around in dentists’ offices. However, a direct answer can be hard to find.
There are a few common cavity myths that are regularly touted to the public. The belief is that failing to floss, eating sugar, having a lack of Vitamin D (among other vitamins), and bacteria growth are the sources of cavities.
Many people believe that the best way to get rid of the bacteria that is “causing the cavities” is to use a highly acidic mouthwash to kill anything and everything in their mouths. (Psst! That “burn” you feel on your gums and cheeks from these mouthwashes doesn’t necessarily mean that they are working!)
However, there’s a reason that these myths have taken root. While they aren’t the actual cause of cavities, they become problematic when not addressing the real issue adequately.
The real problem is acid in the mouth.
Everyone has heard of plaque. It’s a sticky film that is constantly forming and reforming on the teeth, which bacteria makes after digesting sugar — this is where those two myths about sugar and bacteria as cavity causes likely originate. However, these two things on their own are not a huge problem.
The issue is when that broken-down sugar becomes acid. The acid is what breaks down tooth enamel. These holes in the enamel are known as cavities.
How to Get Rid of Cavities
The best way on how to get rid of cavities is not to get them in the first place. Unfortunately, you can’t “get rid” of cavities once they’ve formed. You won’t find any articles or videos with a step-by-step tutorial explaining how to get rid of cavities. (And if you do, please know that they are likely to contain a home remedy that will not be effective in the end.)
While it’s frustrating, there’s a legitimate reason why you can’t “heal” from a cavity. Unlike other cells in your body, the enamel (the coating of your tooth that is affected by cavities first) is not alive. While your skin is made of cells that are alive – and thus capable of healing up a cut or injury – the enamel contains no living cells. In short, the enamel cannot actively defend itself from damage.
Addressing the Vitamin D Debate
The idea that a lack of Vitamin D causes cavities is not a new one. And past studies have shown that children with more Vitamin D in their diets see fewer cavities than those with a lack of Vitamin D.
With our modern understanding that acidity is the real issue, it’s still important to note that Vitamin D is essential for overall tooth health. Vitamin D, like so many essential vitamins, contributes to bone health. In particular, Vitamin D allows the bones to take in more calcium and phosphorus. It also plays a prominent role in tooth mineralization.
Are you worried about your Vitamin D intake? Spend a little more time in the sunshine or talk to your doctor about Vitamin D supplements! However, Vitamin D alone will not prevent cavities.
What Do Cavities Look Like?
You don’t visit the dentist every day, so it’s essential to know the answer to the question, “What do cavities look like?” That way, you can identify a cavity immediately and have it taken care of by a dentist.
Without the help of an X-ray, a cavity usually looks like a stain to the naked eye. Cavities in their early stages often look like a whitish, chalky material sitting on the tooth.
As they grow worse, they may begin to appear brown or black. However, cavities can be challenging to see. More often, cavities can be identified by the pain they cause when biting down or by swelling in the gums.
How to Reverse Cavities
You’ve already read that there’s no miracle resource out there that can tell you how to reverse cavities. Unfortunately, the only way to truly get rid of cavities that have already formed in the enamel is with the help of a dentist.
Reversing cavities can be done in a few ways. The most common method is to have the tooth (or teeth) filled.
Your dentist will clean out all of the decay caused by the cavity and then fill the cavity with a material preventing the issue from continuing.
It’s important to note that the longer you put off filling a cavity, the more significant risks you’re taking with your teeth. The decay can – and probably will – continue if it’s not fixed. The decay can reach into the deeper layers of your teeth, even getting down to the pulp and root.
At this point, you’ll need a more invasive (and expensive) procedure like a root canal or tooth removal in hopes that the cavity won’t turn into a severe infection that reaches the jawbone.
Protecting Against Cavities
Protecting your teeth against future cavities is another matter entirely – and one you have more control over.
You already know that the high acid content in the mouth is the thing that causes cavities in the teeth and problems with your gums. And if you remember from science class, the way to balance out an acid is to neutralize it, usually through the use of a material that is more “basic.”
The pH scale stretches between 1 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic). If the pH of your mouth is less than 5.5, you’re in the prime acidity level for the creation of cavities.
You might find it surprising to learn that most commercial mouthwashes are highly acidic. Even more surprising? The chemical makeup in these mouthwashes was historically used as an infection-fighter and a floor cleaner!
This “fighting acid with acid” technique isn’t effective because it keeps the pH of your mouth acidic when you’re trying to neutralize it. Additionally, physical abrasion introduced by the use of charcoal toothpaste and similar products will not be effective. These types of harsh materials will only act like sandpaper on the already delicate tooth enamel.
Without these options, it can feel like there are very few places to turn for proper oral care, cavity protection, and gum health.
A Cavity Protection Solution
This is why a group of frustrated dentists created another option. The line of Nano Silver products from Elementa uses nano silver technology to protect teeth.
This plant-based nanotechnology neutralizes the acid levels in your mouth and kills acid-causing bacteria 46,000 times better than its alcohol-based competitors. It also remineralizes teeth twice as fast as fluoride, knocks out the germs that cause bad breath, whitens teeth, and soothes symptoms of dry mouth (a cavity-causing side effect of most mouthwashes).
Elementa’s Nano Silver mouthwash also contains xylitol, an ingredient often found in the sugar-free gum that helps fight cavities. Xylitol stimulates saliva flow and raises the pH of plaque, which is why sugar-free gum with xylitol is excellent after meals!
Ready to take control of your health with the right materials? Shop our products today to get the mouth health you need!