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It can be frustrating to wonder why you continue to get cavities when you brush and floss religiously. Like most people, you probably associate dental decay with not brushing your teeth enough, but the truth is, cavities are caused by acidity. Here are seven factors that can influence oral acidity that you may not have considered.


Over time, malnourishment causes decay in teeth, and the same can be said for less severe nutrient deficiencies in categories such as Vitamin D, and Vitamin C. While most people aren’t deliberately developing nutritional deficiencies, there are a variety of reasons that you might not be getting the nourishment your teeth need. Many medical conditions, such as irritable bowel diseases, kidney and liver conditions, and hormonal disorders can deplete nutrients or even interfere with nutrient absorption.

Even if you don’t have a medical condition, however, most foods grown today aren’t as nutritious as they were in 1940 due to the gradual waning of soil minerals over time.

Acid Reflux

Dental decay is commonly connected to GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. While heartburn happens to everyone at least sometimes, it happens to people with GERD almost daily, and when acid from your stomach frequently flows into your mouth, your tooth enamel starts to wear down. Over time, this exposes the inner layers of your teeth (dentin) to acid-producing bacteria, and you end up with a tooth infection.

Dry Mouth

Believe it or not, a vast number of medications can contribute to tooth decay by decreasing saliva flow, and this is common for older adults, who are more likely to take more of these medications. For the same reasons, it’s been suggested that tooth decay may be linked to chemotherapy, radiation, anxiety, and certain saliva-reducing medical conditions.

Drug Use

Just like prescription medications, many recreational drugs are linked to cavities when used in excess or in combination with poor oral hygiene, certain medical disorders, and nutrition problems. This is not to say that no one should use drugs. Rather, whenever you consider trying a new drug (recreational or prescription), it’s important to take into account the needs of your whole body. Know what your health conditions are and double-check potential interactions between medications.

Eating Disorders

It’s to no one’s surprise that having an eating disorder can be incredibly harmful to your health, but here are some facts that might surprise you. Did you know that Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders? In addition, you’re significantly more likely to die from Anorexia, Bulimia, or Binge Eating Disorder than Depression, Bipolar Disorder, or Schizophrenia. 

Your teeth reflect your overall health, and the strain that an eating disorder puts on your body often shows up there. A study of women showed that when compared to healthy controls, those with eating disorders are more vulnerable to tooth sensitivity, dental cavities, and TMJ pain. This is in large part because purging behaviors often lead to stomach acid slowly eroding tooth enamel.

Habits Compounded Over Time

In the United States, cavities are disproportionately felt by elderly adults as well as young children and teens. As we age, it’s common for gums to recede, leaving teeth more susceptible to decay. In addition, older people often suffer from poorer nutrition and take more medications that increase dry mouth.


Research suggests that in addition to cavities, people’s genes and inherited family habits are correlated to jaw disorders, discolored teeth, and enamel problems. You might be doing everything right and still develop dental problems simply because you got dealt a tricky hand of cards at birth.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post should not be interpreted as medical advice or substituted for medical or dental treatment. Gabriel Malouf, Sustineri Dental employees, and contractors are not responsible for health outcomes related to blog content. Please consult your health team about your personal needs.

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