What Causes Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is something that can happen to anyone. This is especially true if you are not taking care of your teeth. Tooth decay comes in many forms, but it all usually starts with a cavity. In this article, we will answer the question “what causes tooth decay?”

What Is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay, which is also called a cavity, comes about when there is bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria makes acid out of sugars and food particles in the mouth. This acid erodes away at the enamel and other parts of your teeth. When it is untreated, you could experience pain, infection and the loss of the tooth. The process of tooth decay starts when the enamel gets damaged, but it is usually unnoticeable until it progresses.

Slowly over time it progresses to the rest of the layers of your teeth until it gets to the pulp. This is where the most sensitive parts of your tooth lie as there are many nerves.

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Below is a list of some the things that are believed to cause tooth decay. Keep in mind that are many other factors that may contribute to tooth decay. At the same time, the causes listed here may impact different people in different ways. Tooth decay is generally the result of a combination of these factors and the interaction between the various causes of tooth decay.

Acidic Foods and Drinks

When many people think of drinks that are acidic, it is likely that they are thinking about soda. In fact, there are many sorts of foods and drinks that people drink regularly that are considered acidic. Some of these foods are surprising–even bread and fish will contain some acid in them. Carbonated beverages like soda are full of acid. So is fruit juice, so be mindful of that.

Unlike the way that bacteria feeds off of foods that are sugary so that they can be covered in acid, acidic drinks and foods begin to damage the tooth enamel right away with their own types of acid.

Improper Nutrition

Not eating the correct foods will also contribute to this problem. It is important that you are avoiding food that is high in carbohydrates and in sugar. These are the compounds that bacteria use most often to create those acids that will wear away at the enamel and eventually cause tooth decay.

If you decide to eat a healthy diet, you will be able to experience healthier teeth because of it. Healthy foods paired with a significantly lessened sugary food list or sugary drinks will go a long way to help protect your enamel and fight off tooth decay.

Poor Oral Hygiene Practices

Having a poor oral hygiene regimen is one of the main causes of these issues. This includes not only neglecting to brush your teeth on a regularly basis, but not brushing your tongue, not flossing and not using mouthwash. It is important that you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day; do this in the morning when you wake up and at night before you go to bed. It is also recommended that you brush your teeth after meals.

You also should remember to brush your teeth for at least two minutes. If you are not taking care of your teeth, this could lead to tooth decay.

Dry Mouth Issues

When you have a dry mouth, this can pose a number of issues. One of the issues that it poses is bad breath, but bad breath is nothing when it comes to tooth decay. Because saliva helps to stop the growth of plaque, people that have conditions with dry mouth are more likely to experience tooth decay.

Dry mouth can be caused by a number of things. This includes medications, genes or medical conditions like diabetes. A dentist works closely with his or her patient to determine the cause of this in order to prevent tooth decay or stop it from progressing with a dry mouth.

Deep Tooth Crevices and Enamel Issues

There are some people who have issues with their enamel. A lot of them will often have deep spots and crevices that are found in their teeth. These people are more likely to have an issue with tooth decay. This is because these deep crevices make it more likely for bacteria to get trapped inside of them. This makes plaque grow more quickly because it has a greater foundation for growth.

There are dental sealants that can be used in order to prevent these. This is useful especially for those who have these deep crevices in their teeth. A dental sealant is safe for uninfected teeth only to help stop infection.


Genetics play a huge role in our overall health, and this is true for your oral health as well. Just as you inherit the color of your hair and eyes from your family, you can also inherit traits involving your teeth. Genetics can be responsible for a number of different tooth conditions like poor enamel or deep crevices in the teeth. These can all lead to tooth decay, so sometimes it is not your fault. This means that you should be even more diligent in the care of your teeth when this happens.


A lot of different ailments come with age, and that does not change in terms of teeth. Some of the prescription medications that are needed as you age can cause a dry mouth, for instance. Another example of age-related tooth issues includes your gums receding as you age. Improper oral hygiene can also catch up to you as you get older as well.

Avoiding the Dentist

Many people avoid the dentist because they are afraid of the dentist. Even if you are afraid, you should be brave and go. This can help stop a number of issues with your teeth as you age, ones that could potentially cost you a lot of money as time goes on. You should ideally be going to see the dentist at least once every six months.


In this article, we have examined a few of the different causes of tooth decay. Have you ever had any experience with treating a decaying tooth? How did you handle it? What were some of the symptoms of the decay? Let us know about your experience in the comments section that can be found below.

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