Do You Really Know What Causes Cavities?

twinkiesEverybody knows what causes cavities right? Not so fast. Tooth decay seems pretty straight forward, but actually several factors lead to the actually decay of a tooth. If you understand exactly what causes cavities then you can better protect your teeth.  Nobody likes having cavities, not only because they can be painful, but because you have to have your tooth drilled to fix them. Just the sound of the drill can be disconcerting. Find out if you really know what causes cavities by taking our true or false quiz below.

True or False?

  1. True or False: Some people are more at risk for cavities than others.
  2. True or False: Eating too much sugar causes cavities.
  3. True or False: The modern diet has contributed to a rise in tooth decay.
  4. True or False: It is not so much sugar but pathogenic bacteria that causes cavities.


  1. True: Research shows lower-income families have a higher risk for cavities, as do senior citizens, diabetics, tobacco users, alcohol and drug users, people undergoing radiation therapy, those with certain diseases or taking certain medications, and people who do not drink fluoridated water.
  2.  False: Although sugar has been blamed for causing cavities, it is actually not the sugar itself doing the destruction. Sugar attracts pathogenic bacteria that live in your mouth. The bacteria eat the sugar and metabolize it into destructive acids. The acids dissolve your tooth enamel which leads to cavities.
  3. True: Dental researchers and scientists believe that the reason tooth decay has become a chronic problem is because our diets are overwhelmingly high in sugars and starches. Oral pathogenic bacteria feed on the sugars and starches leftover on your teeth and produce enamel eating acids leading to decay.
  4. True: It’s true that sugar doesn’t actually cause cavities, but the amount of sugar in your mouth is something you can control. The amount of pathogenic bacteria in your mouth isn’t something you can control as well. If there are no sugars for harmful oral bacteria to feed on, then the bacteria cannot produce enamel eating acids.  That is why you should eat a diet low in sugars and starches.


As a native of northwest Indiana, Nicholas Cain, DDS, is dedicated to providing excellent general, preventive, and family dentistry services to the community that raised him. To schedule your appointment, call Healthy Smiles today at 219-938-2637.