Say Cheese! How to Keep Cavities at Bay

in Jan 27, 2024

Cavities are one of the most common dental problems that affect millions of people around the world. They are small holes or openings in the enamel (the hard outer layer) of your teeth, caused by bacteria and acids. Cavities can lead to toothache, sensitivity, infection, and even tooth loss if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to know how to prevent cavities and keep your teeth healthy and strong.

Key Takeaways

  • Cavities are a common dental problem caused by bacteria and acids that erode the enamel of your teeth. They can lead to toothache, sensitivity, infection, and even tooth loss if left untreated.
  • Poor oral hygiene, sugary and starchy foods, dry mouth, tooth shape and position, and age are factors that increase the risk of plaque formation and cavity development.
  • Early signs and symptoms of cavities include spots or stains on teeth, sensitivity, pain when biting or chewing, bad breath, and swelling or pus around the tooth or gum.

To prevent cavities, brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, rinse with mouthwash, eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and chew sugar-free gum. Regular dental check-ups are also important. Innovations in cavity prevention include smart toothbrushes, nanoparticles, bioactive glass, and vaccines targeting cavity-causing bacteria.

Causes of Cavities

Cavities are mainly caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth after you eat or drink. Plaque produces acids that erode the enamel and create cavities. Some factors that increase the risk of plaque formation and cavity development are:

  • Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing your teeth twice a day, not flossing daily, and not visiting your dentist regularly can allow plaque to build up and damage your teeth.
  • Sugary and starchy foods and drinks: These foods and drinks provide fuel for the bacteria in plaque to produce more acids. Examples include candy, soda, juice, bread, pasta, chips, etc.
  • Dry mouth: Saliva helps wash away food particles and neutralize acids in your mouth. If you have a dry mouth, due to medication, dehydration, or other reasons, you may have less saliva and more plaque.
  • Tooth shape and position: Some teeth, such as molars and premolars, have deep grooves and pits that can trap food and plaque. Also, teeth that are crowded, crooked, or misaligned can make it harder to clean them properly.
  • Age: As you get older, your enamel becomes thinner and weaker, making it more prone to cavities. Also, gum recession can expose the roots of your teeth, which are softer and more vulnerable to dental decay.

illustration depicting how a cavity is formed

Early Signs and Symptoms of Cavities

Cavities may not cause any pain or discomfort in the early stages, but they can worsen over time and affect the deeper layers of your teeth, such as the dentin and the pulp. Some of the signs and symptoms of cavities are:

  • White, brown, or black spots or stains on your teeth
  • Sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods and drinks
  • Pain when biting or chewing
  • Bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
  • Swelling or pus around your tooth or gum
  • Fever or headache (in severe cases)

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist can diagnose cavities by examining your teeth, taking x-rays, and using special tools.

How to Prevent Cavities in Teeth

The good news is that cavities are preventable. You can take some simple steps to prevent tooth decay and keep your smile bright and beautiful. Here are some oral care tips to prevent cavities:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with an SLS free toothpaste. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently brush all surfaces of your teeth for two minutes. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, as it can harbor bacteria and plaque.
  • Floss your teeth once a day. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between your teeth and under your gum line, where your toothbrush can’t reach. Use about 18 inches of floss and gently slide it between your teeth, following the curve of each tooth if you prefer using string floss. Don’t snap or force the floss, as it can damage your gums. This is why a more recommended method of flossing is using a water flosser.
  • Rinse your mouth with a probiotic mouthwash. Mouthwash can help rinse away any remaining plaque and bacteria, as well as freshen your breath. Swish it around your mouth for 30 seconds and spit it out. Don’t rinse with water or eat or drink for at least 30 minutes after using mouthwash.
  • Eat a balanced and nutritious diet. What you eat and drink can affect your oral health and your overall health. Avoid or limit foods and drinks that are high in sugar and starch, as they can feed the bacteria in plaque and cause cavities. 
  • Drink plenty of water. Water is essential for your oral health and your general health. Water can help wash away food and plaque from your teeth, and keep your mouth moist and comfortable.
  • Chew sugar-free dental gum. Chewing gum can also help prevent cavities, as it can increase saliva flow and neutralize acids in your mouth. Saliva also contains enzymes and minerals that can fight bacteria and remineralize your teeth.

If you're interested in exploring more natural methods to keep your teeth healthy and cavity-free, don't miss our blog on how to prevent cavities naturally.

image illustrating how a cavity spreads further into a tooth.

Common Myths and Misconceptions

There are many myths and misconceptions about cavity prevention that can confuse or mislead people. Here are some of the most common ones, and the truth behind them:

  • Myth: Sugar is the only cause of cavities.
  • Truth: Sugar is not the only cause of cavities, but it is one of the main factors. Sugar feeds the bacteria in plaque, which produce acids that erode the enamel and create cavities. However, other foods and drinks that are high in starch, such as bread, pasta, chips, etc., can also cause cavities, as they can stick to your teeth and turn into sugars.
  • Myth: Cavities are only a problem for children.
  • Truth: Cavities can affect anyone, regardless of age. Children are more prone to cavities, as their enamel is softer and thinner, and they may not have good oral hygiene habits. However, adults can also get cavities, especially if they have dry mouth, gum disease, or old fillings that have cracked or worn away. 
  • Myth: Brushing your teeth harder can prevent cavities.
  • Truth: Brushing your teeth harder can actually harm your teeth and gums, rather than prevent cavities. Brushing too hard can wear away your enamel, damage your gums, and cause sensitivity and bleeding. 
  • Myth: You don’t need to see a dentist if you don’t have any pain or problems.
  • Truth: You should see a dentist at least twice a year, even if you don’t have any pain or problems. Your dentist can detect and treat cavities and other dental issues before they become worse and cause more complications.

Innovations in Cavity Prevention

Perfora's Range of electric toothbrushes that are ten times more effective in removing plaque as compared to manual toothbrushes

The field of oral health and cavity prevention is constantly evolving, with new research and technology that can improve the quality and effectiveness of dental care. Here are some of the innovations in cavity prevention that may change the way we protect our teeth in the future:

  • Smart toothbrushes: Smart toothbrushes are toothbrushes that can connect to your smartphone or tablet, and provide feedback and guidance on your brushing habits. They can monitor how long, how often, and how well you brush your teeth, and alert you if you miss any spots or apply too much pressure.
  • Nanoparticles: Nanoparticles are tiny particles that can be used to deliver drugs or materials to specific targets in the body. Nanoparticles can be used to prevent cavities by delivering fluoride, calcium, or other substances to the enamel, to repair and remineralize it. Nanoparticles can also be used to deliver antibacterial agents to the plaque, to kill or inhibit the bacteria that cause cavities.
  • Bioactive glass: Bioactive glass is a type of glass that can bond with living tissues, such as bone and teeth. Bioactive glass can be used to prevent cavities by releasing fluoride, calcium, and phosphate ions, which can enhance the remineralization and regeneration of the enamel.
  • Vaccines: Vaccines are substances that can stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies, which can fight against specific diseases or infections. Vaccines can be used to prevent cavities by targeting the bacteria that cause them, such as Streptococcus mutans. Vaccines can be administered through injections, nasal sprays, or oral drops.
  • Oil Pulling: Oil pulling is an ancient practice that involves swishing oil in the mouth for a period, traditionally believed to improve oral health. This method is thought to draw out toxins from the teeth and gums, potentially reducing plaque formation and supporting overall oral hygiene. Oil pulling is gaining popularity as a supplementary natural technique for cavity prevention and promoting oral cleanliness.

As you take steps to prevent cavities, it's also helpful to know how to deal with tooth pain if it arises. Don't miss our informative blog on cavity tooth pain, where we share expert advice on managing and alleviating toothache caused by cavities.

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at We are always happy to hear from you and help you with your dental needs. Have a great day!

FAQs on Preventing Cavities

1. Can you stop a cavity from forming?

Yes, you can stop a cavity from forming by following good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing, flossing, rinsing, and visiting your dentist regularly. You can also limit your intake of sugary and starchy foods and drinks, and drink plenty of water to keep your mouth clean and moist.


2. Can cavities be 100% prevented?

No, cavities cannot be 100% prevented, as there are many factors that can influence the development of cavities, such as genetics, age, tooth shape and position, etc. However, you can reduce your risk of cavities significantly by following the tips and advice in this article, and by consulting your dentist for personalized recommendations.

3. What kills cavities in teeth?

There is no single substance that can kill cavities in teeth, as cavities are caused by bacteria and acids that erode the enamel. However, there are some substances that can help prevent or treat cavities, such as fluoride, calcium, phosphate, antibacterial agents, etc. These substances can be found in toothpastes, mouthwashes, fillings, coatings, etc., and can help strengthen and repair the enamel, and inhibit the growth and activity of bacteria.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.