Cavities and tooth decay (also known as caries) are the result of the detrimental effects of acid on your teeth. The acid can come directly from your diet, but are also the byproduct of bacteria.
Bacteria are found within plaque and produce acid, especially in the presence of carbohydrate-rich foods. This acid, in combination with other acids in your mouth, is hard on your teeth. Just like most materials, your teeth will dissolve in the presence of high levels of acid. Your teeth can repair themselves if given the opportunity, but only to a point. Once a hole (cavity) forms, intervention is necessary. As long as it is in the beginning stages of the process, before such cavitations occur, your tooth can recreate its structure. This dissolving and recreation of tooth is called demineralization and remineralization.
It is inevitable with modern diets that we will have a degree of demineralization. As long as we give our teeth the opportunity to remineralize, we can avoid dental caries. In certain situations, this is difficult. When, for example, we have a dry mouth (xerostomia), acid levels in the mouth rise faster because our saliva is not present to calm the effects of the acids. Or if you sip on carbonated and/or sugary drinks throughout the day, you are holding the levels of acid high for a long period of time, thereby preventing the chance for your tooth to recover.
Cavities and tooth decay can be avoided. Proper dental hygiene may help prevent caries from developing. This includes cleaning your teeth using a manual or electric toothbrush and dental floss to reach between your teeth. Being seen regularly by your prosthodontist is recommended so you can work to fix or prevent significant problems.