Are You More Prone to Cavities?
You brush your teeth every day just like you’re supposed to – two and sometimes even three times a day, even. You also floss and use a good mouthwash. Yet it seems like every time you go in for your regular dental exam, the dentist tells you that you have a cavity or one that’s starting to develop. You cut out sweets and get a new toothbrush, and you have the same problem at your next visit.
What do you do? Are you just more prone to getting cavities than other people?
The unfortunate truth is that you might be.
Cavities are areas of decay in your teeth that are caused by different types of bacteria in your mouth. The more your tooth decays, the more the bacteria can penetrate into your tooth. Eventually, the bacteria can get into the living part of your tooth – the dentin and the pulp – which will cause a bacterial infection and require more intensive intervention from a dental professional.
Different factors can contribute to tooth decay and the spread of bacteria, and if you have more of them, you may be more prone to getting cavities. Here are some of the common risk factors for tooth decay:
Bacteria play a large role in forming cavities. Bacteria builds up on the surface of the tooth and is held there by plaque, which creates a sticky film. Those bacteria will then eat the sugars and carbohydrates from the foods you eat and the beverages you drink. Every time you eat a bagel or take a sip of that juice, you could be creating more bacteria on your teeth.
As the bacteria eat up these sugars and carbohydrates, they create acids that break down the enamel on the tooth. That then creates an opening for the bacteria to spread into the tooth itself, causing decay.
You will always have bacteria in your mouth. However, some people have more bacteria because of their body’s unique “eco system” or because of their lifestyle choices, such as the things they eat.
The more sugar you eat or drink, the more bacteria you will have in your mouth and the more cavities you are likely to get. Keep in mind that sugar is not limited to the table sugar you think about for your coffee or the kind that’s included in the cookies and cakes you eat. The body turns the starches and carbohydrates in things like breads and pastas into sugars also.
If you want to reduce your risk of cavities, you have to reduce the amount of sugar and carbohydrates in the food and drinks you consume. You can’t count on brushing and flossing to be enough to get rid of the bacteria that these foods and drinks encourage.
Saliva has many functions, including starting the digestive process that breaks down your food. It also helps to neutralize acids that are created by bacteria that harm your teeth.
If you do not naturally produce a lot of saliva or suffer from dry mouth because of an illness or a medication you are taking, you could be at risk of having more bacteria in your mouth, which would also increase your risk of cavities.
You can’t do anything to produce more saliva, but you can counteract this risk by drinking more water to rinse away bacteria and harmful acids and by using mouth rinses that fortify the enamel on your teeth. Fluoride rinses are an especially good choice.
Some teeth have tiny fissures or inconsistencies in them that can trap bacteria. The molars and bicuspids (premolars) are the teeth most likely to contain these surface irregularities in most people. However, you may have other teeth with these fissures that can increase your risk of bacteria and decay.
Genetics play a big role in determining where fissures will appear on your teeth and how deep they will be. You can’t do anything about them except practice good oral hygiene and get regular dental exams and cleanings.
If you aren’t brushing and flossing your teeth every day, you are likely going to have more bacteria in your mouth, which is going to put you at greater risk of getting cavities. You may need to talk with your dentist in Arrowhead about choosing the right toothbrush, mouthwash or floss if you are practicing a consistent routine and can’t identify any other reasons for your tooth decay. You may also need to go over your brushing and flossing techniques to make sure that you are getting all the right spots in your mouth and your routine is effective.
Gum recession, acid reflux, retainers and braces can all contribute to bacteria buildup and decay, as well. Gum recession allows bacteria to reach areas of the tooth that are not protected by enamel and are, therefore, more vulnerable. Acid reflux and frequent vomiting creates acidic conditions in the mouth that wear down enamel faster. Retainers and braces in Arrowhead can trap bacteria, restrict saliva flow, promote plaque formation and make it harder to reach all the places in your mouth when brushing and flossing.
Depending on your genetics and your lifestyle factors, you may actually be more prone to getting cavities than the average person. It is important that you work closely with your Arrowhead dentist to get the right care and reduce your risk. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a consult for dentures, implants or some other corrective or restorative treatment.
Aesthetic Dentistry of Arrowhead in Arizona offers comprehensive dental services to help you create a healthy and beautiful smile that will make you feel confident. We offer everything from routine dental exams to restorative and cosmetic procedures like Invisalign teeth straightening and dental implants in Arrowhead. We serve patients through the Glendale, Peoria and North Phoenix areas in Arizona. Visit us to learn more about our services, or call us today to schedule an appointment.
17100 N 67th Ave, Suite 500
Glendale, Arizona 85308
Phone: (623) 979-1515
Fax: (623) 878-1811
Office Hours: Monday-Friday: 8am-5pm