What Causes Tooth Decay?

28th Jun 2018

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A cavity is another name for tooth decay. Which is caused when bacteria breaks down tooth enamel. Tooth decay can cause pain or can take place secretly. How can we prevent this from happening? First it is importance to understands what happens.

The main factories include:


There are various types of bacteria – some destructive and some protective. It’s aim is to balance and neutralise the mouth environment.


Plaque is a mixture of saliva, bacteria and left over foods. The plaque tends to stick to enamel. This leaves the tooth with small white patches or holes which can lead to the dentine being damaged too.

Sugar Intake:

A high sugar intake may lead to the progression of tooth decay as sugar will sit on the tooth’s surface and if not cleaned away will begin to root the tooth, making its way to the nerve.

Food breaks down into small into small sugars which can be left on the teeth. Acid absorb minerals which cause deterioration. If acid reaches the dentine (which is much softer than enamel) it can lead to nerve pain.


Sometimes there can be no symptoms for a cavity. It can fester for a long period of time before giving any signs! However, when decay reaches closer to the heart of the tooth as time goes on, you do tend to get more symptoms. These can include:

  • Sensitivity to hot and/or cold.
  • Twinges or short bursts of pain.
  • Ache – this can be dull or a throb.

How can I prevent this?

Tooth cavities can be prevented by having a diligent brushing regime and therefore bacteria and plaque can not sit on the teeth for a long period of time. Bacteria on the teeth becomes toxic after 24 hours so it is important that we are brushing well for 4 minuets each day – 2 minutes is a morning and 2 minutes on an evening.

In addition, it is important and dentist tend to stress is introducing flossing into a daily routine to ensure plaque is removed from in between the teeth as well and the areas which can be reached with a tooth brush.

Having a low sugar diet will reduce the risks of tooth decay as there is less sugar to be left harbouring on the tooth surface. This means acids will not be able to break down the tooth enamel leaving it strong and protected.

Prevention is the main factor to minimise risks of tooth decay. This is why routine check ups every 6 months are vital to help catch sign of tooth decay early to stop the progression and treat them early.

For more information of if you feel like you have a problem contact Eccleshill Dental on 01274 633 406.