Risk of tooth decay

If you’re an adult who feels as though your dentist is discovering cavities every time you go in for dental exams, you’re not alone. Adults are just as susceptible to cavities as children and teens. If frequent cavities seem to be a reoccurring issue, it’s time to take a closer look at your daily habits and which ones might be resulting in enamel erosion or plaque buildup.

Cavity-Inducing Risk Factors

While everyone is susceptible to tooth decay and cavities, there are a few inducing factors that can increase your risks of being more susceptible to developing them:

Location of the Tooth

Tooth decay is most commonly found in your back molars and premolars. These teeth are where your food is broken down before swallowing, and these teeth have a lot of grooves, pits, and multiple roots that can collect food particles. The back teeth are more challenging to keep clean than the smooth surfaces of your front teeth are, and in trade, are more susceptible to cavities.

Lack of Fluoride

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps to prevent cavities by restoring the tooth enamel. At the early stages of tooth decay, fluoride can help prevent cavities from forming and reverse tooth damage. Increase your fluoride intake by using fluoride toothpaste and a mouth rinse specifically to restore tooth enamel.

Dry Mouth

If you have a lack of natural saliva in your mouth, you could be experiencing dry mouth. Saliva helps to prevent tooth decay by washing away food plaque from your teeth. Substances found in saliva also help to counter the acid produced by bacteria from ingested foods. Certain medications can have dry mouth as a side effect, so check with your doctor and dentist if you notice a decrease in your mouth’s saliva production.


Frequent heartburn or acid reflux can cause stomach acid to flow into the mouth, wearing away at the enamel on your teeth and causing significant tooth decay. If acid reflux is causing your tooth decay issues, consulting with your doctor on treating your issue is recommended.

Eating Disorders

Stomach acid from repeated vomiting washes over the teeth and begins to dissolve your tooth enamel. Anorexia and bulimia can lead to significant tooth erosion and cavities. If you’re battling an issue with an eating disorder, you are not alone, and there are resources to help.

Eating Habits That Increase Cavities

Eating foods that are sticky and cling to your teeth for an extended period, even after chewing and swallowing, are more likely to cause decay than foods that are easily washed away with rinsing or saliva. These foods have a lingering effect on your mouth:

  • Dairy
  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Soda
  • Dried fruit
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Hard or chewy candies
  • Dry cereal
  • Chips

Frequent snacking or drinking

When you’re constantly snacking on foods throughout the day or drinking anything that contains sugar, you’re allowing for a constant veil of plaque-causing bacteria to cover the surfaces of your teeth. Even if you brush twice a day, your teeth are still being covered by sugar and food debris for hours at a time.

Rather than snacking throughout the day, try eating more filling meals and brushing your teeth after eating. If you do snack throughout the day or eat food that lingers on your teeth, be sure to rinse your mouth well with water after you have eaten to help decrease the harmful bacteria and increase your saliva production.

Your Daily Cleaning Routine Matters

Proper brushing takes at a minimum of two minutes – that’s right, 120 seconds! If you brush your teeth in under a minute and don’t take the time to brush all tooth surfaces properly, you’re not getting your teeth clean.

No single toothbrush or toothpaste is going to save you from ever having another cavity. Achieving effective oral hygiene at home is possible by following a few simple guidelines:

  • Use short, gentle strokes on all tooth surfaces.
  • Make an effort to clean every tooth in your mouth.
  • Pay extra attention to hard-to-reach back teeth and around areas with fillings, crowns, or other restorative dental work.
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue for fresher breath.
  • Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to help protect your sensitive gum tissue.
  • Consider switching to an electric toothbrush, mainly if you have limited manual dexterity.

Your daily cleaning routine makes a difference in your long-term oral health. If you’re feeling cavity-prone no matter what hygiene habits you have, ask for a personal recommendation from Aubrey Baudean DDS at your next check-up so we can help you get your teeth back on track.