Tooth Decay & Cavity Causes

What Causes Tooth Decay & Cavities?
Posted on 04/25/2019
At Smith Family Dentistry, we're proud to provide comprehensive dental care to families throughout the greater Charleston, WV area. At our practice, we strive to prioritize preventive dental care and stop tooth decay from happening in the first place – but if a cavity does form, it's important to start treatment right away. If you've ever asked yourself what causes tooth decay, we're here to provide an answer.

What are Tooth Decay & Cavities?

Tooth decay is something that occurs over time due to the softening of the outer, protective layer of the tooth called the enamel. Once the enamel layer begins to soften and weaken the tooth’s surface becomes sensitive to acid that is created by bacteria build up called plaque.

Here at Smith Family Dentistry really like to emphasize how important dental flossing and brushing is for the health of your teeth. Tooth decay is a big reason why! When foods containing carbohydrates get stuck in our teeth and are not properly brushed or flossed away, tooth decay occurs. When tooth decay occurs and the enamel of the tooth is weakened, acid from plaque bacteria eats away at the tooth creating holes in the teeth that will grow bigger without proper treatment. These holes are called cavities. 

What Causes Tooth Decay & Cavities?

Performing proper hygiene dental routines such as brushing and flossing are great ways to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Some of the things that can enable tooth decay and cavities are: 

Certain foods & drinks:

Food and drinks that tend to stick to your teeth for a long time are big causes of tooth decay. Foods and drinks to avoid are those that are sugary and starchy. Some examples are food like honey, dried fruit, hard candies, chips, and soda. 


After you consume a meal or snack, it is best practice to brush your teeth right away. The more time food residue sits in your mouth, the more time it has to damage your teeth. By brushing your teeth after eating, you can remove plaque. 

Receding gums.

The root of your teeth are not protected by tooth enamel and are therefore more sensitive & more likely to decay. 

Tooth Location:

The structure of our back teeth, molars & premolars, tend to collect more food particles as it a bit hard to reach with our toothbrushes and the grooves & pits of our teeth tend to collect more food particles. 


With age, our enamel starts to wear as we get older and are gums are may begin to recede. This all makes our teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay. 

Dry Mouth:

Saliva helps to pretend tooth decay as it helps to wash away food and plaque from our teeth. Dry mouth is a direct result of a shortage in saliva. 

How to Prevent Tooth Decay & Cavities With Your Dentist 

Practicing good oral & dental hygiene can help to prevent cavities and tooth decay. At Smith Family Dentistry, we have all the treatments necessary to give you a beautiful smile. Even if you happen to have a dying tooth, we can actually save it with our usage of endodontics.

If you’re looking for endodontics, crowns, or dental implants in Charleston, WV, you’ve come to the right place! Feel free to schedule an appointment with your Charleston, WV cosmetic dentist by giving us a call at (304) 343-9131. If you have any further questions, you can contact us online or by phone. We can’t wait to help you achieve a healthier smile!