One of my great professors at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, Fred Ferguson, used to tell us that there are four key requirements for causing a cavity. As you'll see from a previous CrossKeys Dental blog post, there are many factors to cavity production, but when looked at on the most basic level you might be surprised by how easy it is to understand the process. Here is a list of the four main factors in cavity production. 

  1.  Flora (Bacteria) that lives in your mouth - The plaque that forms on your teeth inside of 24 hours is where many bacteria love to live. One in particular, S. Mutans, is the main culprit. These bacteria create acid when they eat, which is the cause of tooth decay. 

  2. Substrate - This is a fancy way of saying food. When you eat, the bacteria eats too. Within 20 minutes after you take in food there is an influx of acid that is created while the bacteria feast. This is why you will often hear me say to drink lots of water at and between meals to help rinse and dilute acid concentration. 

  3. Time - While acid production quickly begins to damage teeth, this essentially starts as an acid etching of the enamel surface. If this process is allowed to continue, the etching becomes deeper and what you think of as a cavity forms. This process takes time and is dependent upon how well you brush, floss and rinse, and if you use fluoride to strengthen enamel. 

  4. Teeth - Of course, without teeth there are no cavities! But our goal at CrossKeys Dental is to keep your smile healthy and bright!

So, in summary, you can essentially control 1 through 3 by practicing good hygiene and limiting intake of carbohydrates and sugary foods (which the bacteria love!). Of course, we can't stop time, but regular brushing and water intake will reduce the amount of time that the bacteria spend dumping acid on your teeth. 

For more info, check out other blog posts and bring your questions to Dr. Badali and Dr. DuPre at CrossKeys Dental.

CrossKeys Dental is located at 110 CrossKeys Office Park in Fairport. Dr. DuPre` and Dr. Badali provide comprehensive family dentistry and are always welcoming new patients. Visit us for more information. Written by Vincent Badali, DDS