Are Cavities My Fault?

Are Cavities My Fault?

If you interview adults that consistently skip going to the dentist there are a few patterns. While for some they stop going to the dentist because after moving out they just never found a new dentist or were worried about insurance, one of the most common things is that many people hold negative feelings towards the dentist. Fear and shame are often two of the strongest negative emotions felt regarding dental visits for kids, teens, and adults. A lot of this comes from how dental visits were experienced as kids. And one common issue is how cavities and issues were treated. In this article, we want to discuss the importance of understanding how cavities form, risk factors, and what can be controlled and what cannot be controlled. 

Why You Shouldn’t See Cavities As Simply Your Fault

The dentist is one of the medical visits kids see the most. And for many kids, there is a period of time when they are learning the importance of cause & effect and actions & consequences. There is a benefit to learning those lessons. If a kid skips their homework or doesn’t study for a test, it is important to understand how those actions led to bad grades on tests and quizzes. But while it is important to understand that relationship, it is also important to teach kids about the things they can’t control as well. 


Truthfully, cavities are not as simple as everyone who has a cavity has one because of their own mistakes, and everyone who doesn’t have cavities is simply doing a better job managing oral health. There are elements to dental decay that can be controlled, but there are also elements that are not controllable. It is important for kids and teens to understand that. Otherwise, it can create a really unhealthy view of going to a dentist. For some kids and even young adults, you might want to avoid the dentist purely because of the bad feeling of finding out you will need a filling. One of the most frustrating feelings for many kids is knowing that their siblings or classmates don’t need fillings and feeling like it’s their fault that they need a filling. 

Understanding How Cavities Form

One of the most important things to understand about cavities is what causes them. Cavities are a form of dental decay. They are caused by bacteria in your mouth breaking down your tooth. Bacteria growth has many factors. Like any organism, some environments make it easier for bacteria to grow. One of the ways we can greatly increase the risk of a cavity is by providing bacteria with the food it needs. Sugars from the food we eat can stick to our teeth leading to bacteria growth on the surfaces of teeth. Preventing cavities comes down to managing risk factors. Some risk factors can be managed by an individual, some can be managed by a dentist, and some are difficult to change.

How You Can Prevent Cavities

First and foremost, brushing and flossing is the number one recommendation for preventing tooth decay. Brushing and flossing removes both the bacteria and the food the bacteria use to grow in your mouth. Additionally, you can provide fewer resources for the bacteria. Sugary beverages and foods stick to your teeth. Foods with high acidity can damage your teeth and make it easier for bacteria to attack the teeth. Finally, avoiding things like smoking can also go a long way in protecting your teeth. 

How Your Dentist Can Prevent Cavities

Your dentist can do a lot more than you might think to prevent cavities. Procedures like sealants and fluoride treatments can add extra protection. Exams can also identify teeth that are at risk. Dentists can also recommend fluoride treatments you can do at home like fluoride toothpaste that can strengthen your teeth. Most importantly, dentists can remove plaque from your teeth that you might not be able to. Scraping away plaque removes a lot of bacteria from your mouth. 

What Can’t Be Controlled

Your genetics can put you at risk for cavities. Some teeth can be physically weaker than others, other teeth can have unique geometry that makes it more difficult to keep them clean. Above all, our teeth do a really bad job at telling us when there is an issue. Unlike other areas of the body, our teeth don’t really register pain or show visual signs of decay (that you can see) until the decay is already pretty extreme. Everything you and your dentist do decreases the risk of cavities, but the risk is never zero. It is important for kids to understand that if they are doing a good job taking care of their teeth and they have a cavity, it isn’t their fault and they shouldn’t feel ashamed. Think of it like getting a cold. Certainly, you can do things to decrease the chances of getting sick like washing your hands, but you can’t make the risk of getting a cold go to down to zero.  

Judgment Free Dentistry in Lisbon Maine

If you are looking for a great place for your family to get dental treatments, give us a call. We provide amazing dental services as well as a judgement free dental experience. 

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