If you’re of the minority of people who have never had a cavity, give yourself a pat on the back! If you aren’t among the dental elite, you need not get down on yourself. Tooth decay is the by far the most common dental ailment that affects every age group in one way or another. Daily brushing and flossing is proven to effectively combat decay and keep your oral health in shape. But why does your Dentist, despite your best efforts, always find a cavity or two at every 6 month cleaning appointment? Even with the recommended flossing and brushing, you can never seem to keep these cavities under control. This struggle is real, and this blog post will aim to shed light on this subject.
A cavity results from specific bacteria that eat away at your enamel and other “good” non-threatening bacteria. It’s referenced amongst professionals as “dental caries” and is classified as an acidic dysfunction. What this means, is that the “bad” bacteria is over powering the non-threatening “good” bacteria, by emitting acid onto the teeth thus changing the pH environment of the mouth. This acid is the decay that will erode and break down your teeth, so the solution is to decrease the bacteria that causes the acid. For some, this is hard to control, since high levels of acid could be genetic, or indicative of a health issue, such as acid reflux disease.
To narrow down the root cause of the acidic environment of your oral cavity, there are a few factors your Dentist will want to take into consideration. First, he or she can test the levels of acid producing bacteria in your mouth with a swab test, and an ATP instrument. Once that’s been assessed, you and your Dentist will take into consideration various criteria. First, is whether you suffer from a dry mouth. Dry, dehydrated mouths are ideal for decay, and are onset but not limited to stress, poor diet, age, heredity, disease, tobacco, and medication. Next, your saliva flow should be tested. Your saliva plays an important role in your mouth because it acts as a protective barrier. The less saliva you have, the greater your risk is of accumulating decay. The frequency of how often you eat and snack also plays a significant role in developing caries. Especially with snacks and foods high in sugar, eating causes the mouth to be more acidic than it normally is. You ideally, for your oral health, should only eat or snack 4-5 times a day in order to be low risk. Also, oral appliances, such as nightguards, retainers, and braces pose a threat. An oral appliance will not allow your saliva to fully coat and protect the teeth against the acid producing bacteria.
Figuring out why you are prone to having dental caries will help you tremendously in learning what the best approach is to get in under control. You’d be surprised to find out how just the smallest changes in your habits will make the largest positive impact on your teeth and oral health. Read on next week’s blog to discover some of the specific methods and products you can utilize to keep your dental hygiene right on track.