We hear many people say my teeth are "soft, weak or they are just like my mom's, dad's, uncle's....and this is why I get so many cavities! In actuality cavities are not caused by any of those reasons - the bottom line is that cavities are caused by bacteria in the oral cavity. These bacteria cannot be treated with antibiotics as other bacterial diseases, it has to be treated with preventative measures both at home and professionally.
"Soft", or "bad" teeth are not the culprit. This is a myth. You can inherit (transmit) cavity bacteria from family members that can put you at higher risk for cavities. Studies show that the oral bacteria that causes tooth decay is transmitted first in childhhood, typically in the first year of life. The oral bacteria is typically transferred by the mother, father and siblings, but can also be passed by other close family members and friends through contact with the oral cavity and saliva.
To keep your child's teeth healthy ensure your own oral cavity is kept clean and healthy to prevent transmission of bacteria. Brushing, flossing, mouthrinses and regular professional care can help keep both your own and your child's oral cavity healthy!
So what can you do if you are prone to cavities due to cavity causing bacteria?
The bacteria responsible for dental decay is only active if you provide the right environment. This means that the bacteria eat what you eat and can only survive in an environment that is hospitable for them. Oral bacteria that cause dental decay like to consume carbohydrates, in particular simple carbohydrates that are broken down in the mouth. For example a regular diet of crackers, bread, chips, cookies, bagels, dried fruit, juices, milk, pop and candy is the perfect food for cavity causing bacteria. First these foods are broken down in the mouth by salivary amylase (an enzyme that breaks down simple carbohydrates) and when these carbs sit in the teeth oral bacteria start to break down and digest them. Acid levels rise in the mouth and if not cleaned to buffer the mouth breakdown of the teeth can occur.
Regular meals and snacks are important! Grazing throughout the day can put you at higher risk for cavities due to the constant food exposure within the oral cavity. If someone is infected with the oral bacteria which causes decay it is a perfect breeding ground for those bacteria to live, produce harmful acids and erode the teeth. Brushing regularly throughout the day as well as rinsing with water when unable to brush helps to wash the oral cavity of food and neutralize the affects of increased acidity in the oral cavity from bacteria.
Cavities are caused by bacteria! Brush, floss and have your teeth professionally cleaned regularly to keep them healthy!