Published in September 2019.
If you have a sweet tooth, chances are you’ve had a “brush” with a cavity or two (see what we did there?). Even with flossing and brushing regularly, you can still miss the trickier places in your mouth, causing tooth decay over time. Oftentimes, you don’t even know one is in your mouth until it’s too late!
Sugar and Spice and Everything Not Nice
Cavities are characterized by demineralization of the teeth or when carbohydrates build up in the mouth, but these two “root” issues are caused by a multitude of bad habits.
Like most other dental issues, the problem starts with poor oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth infrequently allows plaque to build up which diminishes the protective enamel surrounding your teeth. Plaque is the bacterial build-up when food and bacterial particles interact, the acid in plaque interacts with carbohydrates to eventually form cavities.
In your mouth live a host of enzymes to help break down foods even before you swallow. When these enzymes start breaking down complex sugars and starches, acids form as a byproduct. In fact, it takes around 20 minutes after eating for acid damage to start breaking down your teeth (OUCH!).
But sugar is not the only culprit. Foods and drinks like milk, soda, cereal, caramel, cookies and even breath mints can cause acid damage. Brushing your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day can remove most of the remaining sugars and acid buildup.
A Clean Mouth is a Happy Mouth
Dry mouth and acid reflux can also be a big problem (see our last post on bad breath!). Saliva naturally washes away the plaque build up in your mouth, but dry mouth limits the amount of saliva your mouth produces. Drinking water and eating crunchy vegetables can combat dry mouth by stimulating your salivary glands.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid enters your esophagus. This, paired with vomiting exposes your teeth to acid, breaking away at the enamel of your teeth. Too much tooth decay can lead to other uncomfortable issues like tooth sensitivity also known as, dentin hypersensitivity.
Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number
There was a time when kids thought to be the only ones affected by cavities. Older adults are at an even higher risk of developing cavities and tooth decay according to the Mayo Clinic. But with regular checkups and good oral health habits developed at an early age, we hope this won’t affect you as much.
There are precautions to take to avoid cavities, your toothbrush is a great place to start. Try looking for a brush with a tongue cleaner, and looking for something that can reach all the crevices in your mouth.
Also, make sure you buy pastes that are not too harsh on teeth. There are various brands of toothpaste available to prevent cavities, so talking to your dentist can really help you narrow down the search. Flossing should also be a very important part of your oral routine. Flossing is a lot easier to do throughout the day and ensures that bacteria are cleaned out between the hard to reach spots in your teeth.
Of course, the best treatment and prevention method would be to visit your dentist for regular cleanings and x-rays. Dentists know best, and we all just want what’s best for our teeth. Book your appointment today and make the team at Sandhurst Family Dental can fight alongside you in your quest for healthy teeth!