First question we have for you is Do you floss?
A lot of food and bacteria love hiding in between teeth, behind the lips and way at the back molars in the cheeks. Once this bacteria sits between the teeth for as little as a few hours it can start the decay process. Over time if these bacteria are not disturbed a well-hidden cavity will form between the teeth unknown by most which can continue to grow undetected until picked up on a dental xray.
Depending on a multiple of factors in the mouth once the bacteria is strong it can spread rapidly and cavities can form in numerous locations. Cavities between teeth usually affect both adjacent teeth and decay them at the same time making two cavities instead of simply one also speeding up the decay process by doubling the areas of damage.
Brushing is only 1/3rd of the necessary methods of keeping your mouth healthy, flossing and rinsing go hand in hand in preventing gum, bone disease and decay! Here are a few areas we feel will help reduce your chances of getting cavities!
Bacteria type and strength
Bacteria are always present in the mouth and all over the body. Some bacteria are useful and some are destructive. Streptococcus mutans is the main cause of dental decay followed closely by various lactobacilli. There are hundreds of strains of bacteria that can be present in the oral cavity; tests are available to see which strains your mouth contains and ways to combat each bacterium specifically. Disturbing the bacteria with brushing, flossing and mouth rinsing aids in slowing down bacteria’s destructive path and reduces the concentration and strength of the present bacteria thus slowing down the cavity process. When bacteria have opportunity to grow they take it and put up a continuous fight that requires daily attention!
Frequency of sugar intake
We all know that sugar works against us when it comes to cavities but a lot of us are unaware of all the sugar that is hiding in our foods. Sugar also termed as fermentable carbohydrates work with bacteria to begin the decay process and eventually destroy teeth. They include the obvious sugary foods, such as cookies, cakes, soft drinks and candy, but they also include less obvious food, such as bread, crackers, fruits and breakfast cereals. Every time we ingest sugar or fermentable carbohydrates it is considered a sugar attack in the mouth. As sugar is hard to avoid completely without a very strict diet it is best to reduce the number of sugar attacks per day instead of the amount of sugar consumed. What does that even mean? Best example is a 500ml pop; It is better on your teeth to drink that 500ml in one sitting under 1 hour of time (one acid attack) as opposed to sipping the pop over the duration of the day (2+ acid attacks).Repeated sugar attacks on the teeth can speed the decay process to go from 0-12 cavities in no time and needs constant oral hygiene observation and intervention.
You hear an apple a day keeps the DR away! But maybe not the dentist!! Your mouths PH level is subject to change with diet and age. Acid in the mouth initiates bacterial growth and aids in the cavity process. Both severe acidic and basic PH levels in the mouth can cause a variety of problems. PH should always be kept close to neutral and there are a few ways to reduce your oral PH. Foods can bring your PH to both ends of the scale so a balanced diet is essential to making sure you are right in the middle. Things that increase your PH to acidic levels include tea, coffee, beer/wine, chocolate, carbonated water, pop, lack of sleep, tobacco smoke, and stress. Things that decrease your PH to alkaline levels include carrots, lettuce, broccoli, garlic, grapes, bananas, peaches, raw milk and celery. In addition even the low alkaline foods get more acidic when cooked! Nutritional counselling can help you balance your daily ph balance and overall help reduce cavities and oral lesions
Now here’s the tricky part there are many methods of brushing and before reading further ….. go check yours out in the mirror! Ok now that you have seen your method here are a few tips to help you out. If you have a manual tooth brush it should be placed at a 45° angle on the tooth surfaces and gently move your brush back and forth, down the tooth and away from the gums for each tooth. For children gentle circular motions on the teeth surfaces work great! Always start with your molars at the very back, this is the number one spot we miss when brushing. These teeth have very deep pits and grooves where food can hide and cavities can form. Do not forget the inside of your teeth closest to your tongue food is held on the teeth by your tongue and can sit there undetected by you for days! Electric toothbrushes do a lot of the brushing for you. Depending on the amount of directions the brush moves at one time will determine if you also need to add motion to your brushing or have the toothbrush still on each tooth. Brushing hard with an electric toothbrush can be traumatic to your teeth and gums and very gentle pressure should be applied when using them. Talk to your Hygienist about what toothbrush you use so we can help make sure you are using it efficiently!
These are just a few starters to help you prevent cavities and increase your oral hygiene home care. We always recommend talking to your Dentist and Hygienist about your oral care concerns so we can help you optimize your oral health!