If you ask someone what causes a cavity to form in a tooth you'd likely be surprised at what they might come up with.

Dental cavities (or caries or decay) are considered adisease. There are at least six factors that are involved:

  1. Teeth
  2. Saliva
  3. Bacteria
  4. Food
  5. Frequency of exposure to sugars or carbohydrates.
  6. Inherited Factores...Heredity
The actual process is very complex and some details are not yet completely understood. First the bacteria combine with proteins in saliva to attach themselves to the sides of your teeth. This bacterial/protein substance is known as "plaque"; it is the white sticky film that can be seen or scraped off the sides of your teeth when you haven't brushed in a while.

The bacteria present in plaque use the food that you consume, sugar (carbohydrates) are the favorite food for these particular types of bacteria. They digest it rapidly (within minutes) and a by product of their eating is an acid. Since the plaque is stuck on the teeth , the acid is as well concentrated and actually dissolves the calcium from the enamel in your teeth. If allowed to remain for a long period of time, these frequent exposures to acid create an opening in the enamel cover of your teeth known as a cavity. If the plaque is removed from the teeth though good thorough cleaning it will reform in 24 hours. That's the big reason for the need for very thorough hygiene each day. These Diagrams show stages of the decay process from its beginning until it involves the pulp of the tooth.

Teeth do have the ability to re-mineralize these dissolvedareas if the plaque is removed (brush, floss, etc). Saliva dilutes this acid in most areas; saliva production diminishes while we sleep allowing the bacteria and acid to have their most damaging effect. This makes brushing and flossing just prior to bedtime very important.

If a tooth surface that is thoroughly cleansed of plaque and is exposed to fluoride, it will remineralized most quickly. Fluoride is much more resistant to "acid attacks".

Home care, time of day home care is carried out, fluoride,diet it all adds up. It is completely in your hands to control. No hygienist nor dentist can come to your home each day to perform the home care you need.


Heredity does play a role because you are born with a unique body chemistry and some people seem to have stronger enamel but in any case proper home care is essential in preventing problems. Because a person seems immune to cavities does not mean they will not have Gum Disease which is also related to the removal of PLAQUE.

We Welcome New Patients