Did you know the sound of a dentist's drill can invoke a panic attack? OK, that's not true. But during those anxious moments in the waiting room, listening to the cacophony of machinery from beyond the door, it feels true. Unfortunately, going to the dentist is a fact of life. And cavities, those tiny holes or other physical breakdown of our teeth, are usually the culprits behind the most uncomfortable dentist visits.
Most of us are familiar with cavities and become so at an early age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 19 percent of people between the ages of 2 and 19 have untreated cavities [source: CDC]. Kids are more prone to tooth decay than adults because children generally are not as diligent about brushing (no surprise there), but also because tooth decay is actually a communicable disease called dental caries which is usually passed from parents to kids by sharing utensils or cups [source: Felsenthal].
We all know brushing and flossing regularly will help prevent cavities, but what causes the enamel to break down in the first place? In this article, we'll take a look at five causes of consistent cavities and explore how everything from eating habits to hygiene plays a role in dental health.
We're going to start with dessert and discuss how the sugary treats contribute to tooth decay -- and how to have your cake and have some teeth left to eat it with, too.