Do cavities mean bad hygiene?

This blog post will address the topic, “do cavities mean bad hygiene” and cover topics like why you get cavities even though you brush and floss and reasons for getting cavities even after a good oral hygiene routine.

Do cavities mean bad hygiene?

No, cavities may not always mean bad hygiene. Cavity may even form in those who brush and floss daily and maintain good oral hygiene. 

Cavity may not always mean bad or poor oral hygiene and may be a result of incorrect brushing or flossing, or incorrect timing of brushing like just after acidic foods or drinks, or may also occur due to continuous use of highly abrasive toothpaste.

Why Do I Keep Getting Cavities Even Though I Brush And Floss?

You keep getting cavities even if you brush and floss your teeth because either you are not brushing or flossing with a proper technique or there may be several pits and grooves present on the occlusal surface of your teeth.

The food particles get stuck in these pits and grooves, not possible to remove from brushing, resulting in plaque buildup, acid attacks on enamel by plaque bacteria and finally cavities formation.

Visit your dentist to get those pits and grooves sealed to prevent formation of cavities.

11 Reasons Why You Get Cavities Even After Good Oral Hygiene

Choice Of Toothbrush

You might be brushing twice daily but with the wrong toothbrush. Selection of an appropriate toothbrush plays a very crucial role in removal of plaque and food debris.

Toothbrushes with more rounded bristles are soft to your teeth and are considered to be an ideal toothbrush to use.

Using a hard-bristled toothbrush may abrade the enamel and lead to dental abrasion, recession of gums and increased risk of developing cavities due to thinning of enamel.

A 2014 study concluded that electric toothbrushes may be more effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis than manual brushes in the short and long term. 

As effective plaque removal is crucial in achieving caries free teeth, an electric toothbrush with rotating heads must be your choice of toothbrush.

Correct Technique Of Brushing Teeth

Sometimes you brush your teeth daily twice and still get cavities. The reason behind this may be hidden in the toothbrushing technique you follow.

While daily brushing, we pay little attention to the technique involved in toothbrushing and therefore end up getting cavities.

Use gentle, short strokes to brush your front teeth and thoroughly clean your mouth without abrading the enamel.

Brush the outside surfaces as well as the back molars and upper areas of your chewing surfaces. Brush the inside surfaces of both top and bottom front teeth by flipping your toothbrush upside down.

Brush your tongue to get rid of any bacteria or plaque.

Toothpaste You Use Matters!

You might be following all oral hygiene routines and yet end up with a cavity. Unfortunately, your toothpaste might be the culprit.

High abrasive toothpastes abrade your enamel layer, thinning the enamel and increasing the chances of cavity formation multifold. 

To maximise the benefits of toothbrushing, you must choose a toothpaste which has a RDA value of 250 or less.

You should look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance while choosing your toothpaste or any teeth whitening products.

Fluoride toothpaste can greatly help achieve oral and dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. 

Fluoride reduces the amount of acid produced by the bacteria on your mouth. 

Proper Diet: Essential For Preventing Dental Cavities

Diet plays a crucial role in preventing cavity formation. Proper diet with less sugar and more calcium, may significantly decrease the risk of developing cavities.

However, a diet with frequent intake of sugar, starchy foods and acidic foods and drinks may increase the risk of dental cavities as they result in increased bacterial attack and thinning of enamel from demineralisation.

A research study concluded that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages on a regular basis increases the chances of having dental caries.

Another study reported that all sugars can be fermented by the oral bacteria and are therefore a potential cause of cavities and tooth decay.

Foods rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D increases the tooth strength and their resistance against cavity forming bacteria.

A clinical trial reported vitamin D to be a prominent agent for caries prevention.

Study published in the journal of dental research, concluded that vitamin D is essential for lowering the risk of developing caries in children.

Hence, if you maintain good oral hygiene and still develop cavities, you need to check your diet and eating habits.

Structure Of Your Teeth (Teeth Morphology)

The structure of the teeth are different for different people. Some may have too many pits and fissures and grooves on the tooth surface while some may have gaps in between the teeth.

Morphology of teeth plays a decisive role in cavity formation. The food particles get stuck in these pits, fissures, grooves and gaps between the teeth, not possible to remove from brushing, resulting in plaque buildup, acid attacks on enamel by plaque bacteria and finally cavities formation.

Wisdom tooth or partially erupted tooth creates a favorable environment for the bacteria to get trapped between the crown and periodontal soft tissues causing inflammation and infection.

Choice Of Mouthwash

Therapeutic Mouthwashes contain ADA listed active ingredients such as fluoride, peroxide, essential oils, cetylpyridinium chloride, and chlorhexidine, preventing cavities from forming and naturally healing and reversing the formed cavity in its earliest stage.

Therapeutic mouthwashes, as the name suggests have therapeutic action and control dental conditions like gingivitis, tooth decay and periodontal diseases. They also help remove halitosis.

According to a research published in the journal of clinical medicine research, mouthwash containing chlorhexidine gluconate or cetylpyridinium chloride showed antimicrobial activity against most bacteria in the plaque biofilm.

Another study concluded that the chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride containing antiseptic mouthwashes had higher in-vitro antibacterial activity against streptococcus mutans, a bacteria found in the plaque biofilm.

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Bruxism or teeth grinding over a long period of time wears down the enamel and increases the risk of dental cavity, further leading to pulp infection.

Medical Conditions like Sjogren Syndrome

Sjogren syndrome, a medical condition that causes dry mouth due to decreased salivary production, is often responsible for tooth infection.

In dry mouth, the saliva in the oral cavity is significantly decreased resulting in non-flushing of the plaque and other food debris.

The plaque accumulation increases resulting in increased bacterial growth leading to tooth infection or abscess.

Immunosuppressive Conditions

Conditions like HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy and other immunosuppressive conditions lead to increased risk of developing tooth cavity and tooth infection as the defence mechanism of the body is significantly compromised.

Genetic Causes such as Amelogenesis Imperfecta

Amelogenesis Imperfecta is a rare genetic disorder affecting the enamel formation, predisposing the enamel to wear down and finally leading to increased risk of cavity and tooth infection.

Saliva Viscosity Matters!

Thickness of saliva or saliva viscosity matters a lot when it comes to cavities formation. 

You might be following all the daily good oral hygiene routine but still get cavities or tooth decay. Your saliva may have a role in it.

Viscous and thick saliva may not act as a natural cleaner of the oral cavity and thus increase the risk of cavities formation even after maintaining good oral hygiene.

The salivary thickness may be genetically influenced, or may be reduced due to some medical or oral conditions, or may be due to excessive smoking and alcohol consumption.


This blog post addressed the topic, “do cavities mean bad hygiene”. We understood why you get cavities even though you brush and floss and reasons for getting cavities even after a good oral hygiene routine. The article outlined some medical and oral conditions that can lead to cavities other than incorrect tooth brushing technique,  incorrect choice of toothpaste and dietary choices.


Are cavities inevitable?

Cavities are not inevitable. There are few people who never get cavities in their lifetime. Brushing twice daily with correct technique and timing, flossing daily, cutting down on sugar, acidic and starchy foods and incorporating calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D are effective ways to prevent cavities.

Can You Brush Away A Cavity?

A cavity is a permanent damage of the enamel layer that needs to be repaired by using filling materials like composite or porcelain or an amalgam.

Once you have a cavity, it is not possible to brush it away. However, it can be filled and prevented from further damaging your tooth.

Is it possible to never get cavities?

Yes, it is possible that you will never get cavities in your lifetime. Taking good care of your oral health and hygiene is crucial in such cases with daily brushing twice, flossing once and using therapeutic mouthwash occasionally.

Research studies have shown that increasing the number of times you brush your teeth with gentle strokes, significantly decreases the chances of getting cavities.

Can I wait 6 months to fill a cavity?

Waiting for 6 months to fill your cavity can damage your tooth and may aggravate the pain, sensitivity and discomfort by infecting the pulp.

Hence, it is advised to fill a cavity as soon as it develops or starts showing certain symptoms like sensitivity and pain on eating and drinking something cold or hot.

The cavities grow as fast as six months or may take longer ranging from four to five years, depending on the condition of your oral cavity.

Do Cavities Spread?

No, cavities do not spread but may result from the same cause once again on another tooth.

Cavities do not spread from one tooth to another but may be caused by the same process and under the same conditions if proper treatment and oral hygiene is not maintained.

How many cavities is normal?

Having cavities is not normal and even one cavity indicates poor oral hygiene. According to few studies, the average number of cavities in a person varies from one to three.

Other FAQs about Teeth cavities that you may be interested in.

Do apples cause cavities?

Do cavities always show up on xrays?

Do cavities develop overnight?


The Tooth Decay Process: How to Reverse It and Avoid a Cavity. (2018)

5 Amazingly Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Cavities. (2017)

Frequency of Daily Tooth Brushing and Development of any Type of Malignancy DAIKI KOBAYASHI, OSAMU TAKAHASHI, TAKURO SHIMBO Anticancer Research Aug 2019, 39 (8) 4415-4421; DOI: 10.21873/anticanres.13613

Why Do We Brush Twice A Day?


When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth. (2020)

How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth? (2021)

Sanders JL, Houck RC. Dental Abscess. [Updated 2021 Jul 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:

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