What Causes Cavities on the Front Teeth?

Cavities are uncommon on the front teeth – but not impossible. Here’s what causes them and how you can work to prevent them.

July 15, 2022
What Causes Cavities on the Front Teeth?

You’re taught from a young age that you need to brush and floss to avoid cavities. Let’s face it – lots of people get cavities on the tops of their back teeth (the molars). 

Cavities are so common because of the grooves and nooks on your teeth that food and acids can hide inside of, making it difficult to clean them properly.

But cavities on front teeth are entirely possible, albeit less common. If you don’t properly take care of your oral hygiene, you might fall victim to a cavity on one or more teeth throughout your mouth.

Let’s take a look at what causes cavities on the front teeth and how you can correct them – even without dental insurance.

What are Cavities?

Cavities are permanently damaged areas of a tooth caused by decay on the hard surface of the teeth. They are among the world’s most common health problems, especially common in children and teenagers.

The process of cavity formation occurs over time. First, dental plaque forms on the surface of the tooth. Plaque is that clear, sticky film that accumulates from lots of sugar and starch without proper cleaning. When left on the surface, bacteria start to feed on the sugars to form plaque. When plaque stays on the teeth long enough, it hardens and turns into tartar.

Tartar is a lot more challenging to remove, and the acids within it wear away on the tooth’s outer enamel. This erosion causes tiny openings or holes in the tooth. If left untreated, it can attack the next layer underneath, known as dentin. Dentin is a softer layer with tubes that communicate with the nerve of the tooth.

At this point, a cavity can start to feel painful, especially if you consume hot or cold foods and beverages. If the destruction of the tooth continues, bacteria and acid can reach the inner layer of the tooth, known as pulp. This can often be extremely painful, especially if the discomfort extends to the bone beyond the tooth root.

Cavities are most common on the molars; the teeth in the back of your mouth are used to chew food. The grooves and crevices on these teeth make it especially easy for bacteria to build up. However, that doesn’t mean that a cavity can’t form on the front teeth.

Causes of Cavities on the Front Teeth

  • Inadequate bruising and flossing
  • Too many sugary or acidic foods or drinks
  • Skipping regular dental check-ups

While they’re less likely than cavities on the back teeth, adults can get cavities on their front teeth. Let’s look at some of the most common reasons why this happens.

Inadequate Brushing and Flossing

Proper oral hygiene is one of the most excellent defenses against dental caries or cavities. While brushing and adequately flossing can help you avoid them, a CDC report found that a whopping 91% of adults between ages 20 and 64 have had at least one cavity.

While you might brush and floss, are you doing it properly? For brushing, it’s recommended that you spend two minutes scrubbing away nasty bacteria twice a day. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush so you don’t wear away enamel, and also be sure to use toothpaste with fluoride, a natural mineral that fortifies your teeth and can help prevent cavities.

Additionally, you want to make sure you’re using small circular motions on all teeth when you brush. Get close to the gum line, and give your front teeth just as much love as your back teeth.

Many people brush their teeth, but a much lower percentage of people actually floss. You should floss at least once a day for two to three minutes, but ideally, you’re flossing after you brush your teeth twice a day.

Flossing removes particles in between your teeth that brushing just can’t catch. As a result, flossing helps to prevent bacteria from breaking down those particles and wearing away at your tooth enamel.

It takes a maximum of ten minutes out of your entire day to treat your teeth right, and that is obviously worth it. By maintaining good dental hygiene, you can save tons of time and headaches (or toothaches).

Too Many Sugary or Acidic Foods or Drinks

Everyone loves a nice glass of Coca-Cola or a warm cup of coffee every now and then. However, these beverages are super acidic, and they can accelerate the cavity-forming process by clinging to your teeth for an extended period of time.

Sugary food and drinks like soda, sugar, honey, cream, dry cereal, mints, and chips are all more likely to cause decay because they resist being washed away by saliva. 

If you’re going to consume some of these, definitely do it in moderation, and consider brushing your teeth after consuming them to wash away the harmful acids.

Skipping Regular Dental Check-Ups

Visiting the dentist’s office twice a year doesn’t sound like a daunting task from the onset. However, it's often easier said than done. However, visiting an oral hygienist for your bi-yearly cleaning is necessary to stop cavities before they worsen.

Dentists can recognize the early signs of a cavity, such as early erosion of enamel. If these are spotted before it’s too late, they might actually be able to reverse the cary from getting to a point where you’d need a filling in the first place. Plus, routine dental cleaning can fortify your teeth to help prevent cavities from forming in the future.

The issue is that dental checkups can be expensive. The average cost of a full oral exam and cleaning can range upwards of $118 without insurance. Since such a large percentage of Americans are without dental insurance, there are too many people whose overall health is in jeopardy just because the cost is a barrier to care.

No insurance? No problem. Flossy is the pay-as-you-go dental service made for people without dental insurance. With your free membership, you’ll have access to top-rated dentists in your area at up to 50% off the national average. That means you can get a full oral cleaning and exam for as low as $59.

No annual premiums and no monthly fees – you’ll only pay for the services you receive. Plus, there’s no waiting period, so once you become a member, you’ll be all set to start getting the dental care you’ve been waiting for.

How to Treat Cavities on the Front Teeth

The treatment for cavities on the front teeth is the same as cavity treatments on other teeth – a dental filling. But because of its location in the mouth, the type of filling is usually a little bit different.

Instead of gold or silver-colored amalgam fillings, most dentists will instead recommend porcelain or composite resin. These aren’t as durable, and you’ll likely need to replace them a little bit more often. However, they are much more discreet and will be able to blend into the original teeth seamlessly.

How Does a Cavity Filling Work? 

  1. A dentist starts by drilling away at the infected area of the tooth, removing debris and bacteria to prevent damage from worsening.
  2. Once the cavity is drilled out and a hole is made, the dentist will place filling material inside the hole. 
  3. Then, they’ll bond this filling material to the tooth with a special device that uses blue lighting to help bind the material to the tooth. 

This process helps the resin stay in place without popping off from chewing, talking, or anything else.

Dental fillings are usually painless, and there’s no recovery period afterward. While you might feel a little bit of discomfort or sensitivity, you should be able to return to eating and drinking normally from the second you leave the dentist’s office.

Fillings can cost upwards of $201 per tooth without insurance, but with Flossy, you’ll only pay as little as $99. That’s a savings of over 50% – and you won’t need to worry about filing insurance claims or paying out your deductible.

How to Prevent Cavities

Preventing cavities is easy! One of the most valuable techniques is oral hygiene. Specifically, be sure that you’re supplementing your routine with fluoride.

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally, released from rocks into the soil, water, and air. There’s a misconception that it’s a chemical additive, but it’s a completely natural element that is super important for oral health. 

While almost all water contains some fluoride, it’s not enough to fight tooth decay.

Getting fluoride toothpaste or mouthwashes can help prevent tooth decay by strengthening enamel. Your oral hygienist might have you do a fluoride treatment when you visit them for precisely this reason.

You also know to avoid acidic foods, but you also want to eat foods that are good for your teeth in their place. Milk, yogurts, and calcium-rich cheese can help strengthen bones throughout your body, including your teeth. Also, phosphorus found in eggs, lean meats, and nuts are also fantastic for oral health.

Conclusion

Cavities are no fun. At least when they’re on your molars, though, they are inconspicuous and discreet. When cavities are on your front teeth, they can be a bit more noticeable and frustrating. The good news is that they are highly treatable when caught early – just like a regular cavity.

Front teeth cavities result from the same causes: poor oral hygiene, acidic foods, and skipping your regular dental check-ups. They can also be caused by a lack of fluoride – a natural fortifying mineral that can help to strengthen your enamel and prevent the erosion that leads to tooth decay.

The treatment options for front tooth cavities are the same as for molar cavities. Dental fillings made of a composite resin that blends into the white of your tooth are recommended over gold or silver amalgam, just because these are much more discreet in comparison. 

Either way, getting dental care for a front tooth cavity shouldn’t have you stressed. Flossy can save you up to 50% on dental exams, surgeries, and procedures – without the need for insurance.

Sources:

Cavities/tooth decay - Symptoms and causes | The Mayo Clinic

Many Adults Don't Take Proper Care of Their Teeth | University of Utah Health

Regional Variation in Private Dental Coverage and Care among Dentate Adults Aged 18-64 in the United States, 2014-2017 | CDC

About Fluoride | FAQs | Community Water Fluoridation | Division of Oral Health | CDC