What causes cavities?

Most of us know the main culprits of cavities, but there are still some misconceptions about cavity causes. Here are 5 causes of cavities

  1. Sugars

Tooth decay is causes primarily by a germ called mutans streptococcus. Sugar and starches feed this germ, and creates and acid that breaks down calcium, and erodes your tooth enamel. This same germ also causes plaque, which leads to also leads to acid formation and tooth decay.

As you eat, the bacteria come into contact with the sugar in your mouth and immediately (within 20 seconds!) start forming acid, which starts eroding your enamel. The longer the sugar is exposed to your mouth, and to the mutans streptococcus, the more time acid has to form. Swishing with water, or brushing, after sugar exposure can help minimize the damage.


  1. Acidic Foods / Drinks

Citrus, diet soda, and other acidic foods are major culprits for cavities! Acids work on their own (unlike sugar that has to ‘meet’ the mutans streptococcus bacteria,) and immediately start working to erode your enamel. Fruit juice, bread, fish, soda, and citrus fruits all contribute to erosion.

Some tips for curbing the damage:

  • Don’t brush your teeth immediately after acid consumption! Because the acid gets to work right away, your enamel is softened immediately. Brushing right after can cause more harm than good! Instead, rinse and swish with water or mouthwash.
  • Drink dairy or eat cheese with an acidic meal to help neutralize the acids.
  • Try to avoid soda and other acidic drinks before bed! During the night you produce less saliva – which means nothing to wash away the acids!
  1. Poor Hygiene

We all know this one! Proper brushing, flossing, and regular appointments with Dr. Ramsey and Dr. Montoyawill help to keep cavities at bay! What you may not have known is crooked teeth, stained teeth, and other hygiene problems can also play a role in cavity production. Misaligned teeth are harder to clean, which can result in cavity formation in the areas that cannot be reached.

  1. Genetics

Genetics plays a role in every physical trait we have – including the health of our teeth! The alignment (or straightness) of our teeth, the position of our molars, and even the hardness of our enamel all comes from our genes! Even those with stellar brushing habits can still be prone to cavities because of genetics, while those with poor hygiene can ‘miss out’ on cavities!

  1. Age

Age also plays an important role in the development of cavities. It has been shown that the saliva of infants contains bacteria that can cause childhood caries. Bacteria are also introduced into the mouths of infants through their mother’s saliva.


The elderly also face an increased risk of cavities due to poor saliva production as we age. Saliva plays a large role in cleansing our teeth of bacteria, and any loss of saliva can have an effect on our teeth.


If you are prone to cavities or are experiencing other dental issues, speak with your Rowlett, TX dentists, Dr. Ramsey and Dr. Montoya to learn other ways to prevent and treat cavities.



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