What’s your risk for getting cavities?
Posted by Dr. Ralph Stanley on Feb 1 2015, 10:21 PM
Are you at low, moderate, or high risk for getting cavities? What can you do to protect your teeth from cavities so that you can avoid fillings, dental crowns, or even losing a tooth and requiring a more expensive restoration? Consider some of the factors below:
- At home care – Daily flossing between your teeth and gums, and brushing your teeth twice daily help remove food and debris that can cause bacteria to linger and plaque to form on your teeth. When bacteria and plaque are not removed, tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease can result.
- Sugary foods and drinks – Juice, soda, energy drinks, candy, and baked goods are just some of the foods and drinks that often contain large amounts of sugar. The sugar creates an acidic environment in your mouth, which promotes tooth decay.
- Fluoride – Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay. Some sources of fluoride are community drinking water, fluoridated toothpaste or mouthwash, supplements, or professional application by a dentist.
- Eating disorders – Some eating disorders include purging food through vomiting. Vomiting creates acidic conditions in the mouth that eat away at tooth enamel and cause teeth to decay. The mouth should be thoroughly rinsed after vomiting. A dentist can provide fluoride treatments and prescribe fluoridated mouth rinse to help protect the teeth. If untreated, teeth can become very weak and crumble. Getting professional help to assist with the recovery process is important.
- Drug and alcohol abuse – Alcohol and certain drugs can erode tooth enamel. The sugar in alcohol also contributes to tooth decay. At times, the lifestyle of an alcohol or drug abuser promotes unhealthy eating, which affects oral health.
- Prescription medication – Some prescription medications reduce salivary flow. If you are experiencing dry mouth due to prescription medication, in addition to drinking plenty of water, let your dentist know. He or she will recommend salivary rinses or other ways to increase saliva production in your mouth. A dry mouth promotes tooth decay.
- Teeth – When teeth are misshaped or misaligned, they can be harder to clean and be prone to decay. Exposed tooth roots or tooth restorations that leave open margins are more susceptible to decay.
- Medical conditions – Certain medical conditions, including some autoimmune diseases, can cause dry mouth or attack soft tissue in the mouth and compromise the health of teeth.
Diligent at-home care can limit or prevent tooth decay. For additional assistance, speak with your dentist about any oral health problems or medical conditions you have that can affect the health of your teeth.
This post is sponsored by San Jose dentist Dr. Ralph Stanley of Hillsdale Dental Care.