A cavity is created by a process termed “caries,” which is the destruction of hard tooth structure. During the caries process, the naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths are fed by what we eat, and release acid that breaks down the tooth. To prevent the caries process, there are many areas of our daily routine that can be modified. Many times, only simple changes in the areas listed below may be enough to stop the caries process and prevent cavities.
Simple carbohydrates are the primary food source for the naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths. The bacteria then use these carbohydrates to produce acid, which is what damages our teeth. The bacteria can continue to feed for approximately 30 minutes after consuming any food or drink items containing carbohydrates. Recommendations for diet modifications are listed below:
Problems: Soda, sweet tea, processed foods high in carbohydrates (such as bread, crackers, and chips), hard and soft candies
Solutions: Raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, meats, yogurt, cheese, water, and calorie-free drinks
Problem: Bacteria using food to produce acid for 30 minutes after consumption
Solutions: Minimize snacks between meals, eating xylitol gum immediately after meal to neutralize acid
The American Dental Association recommends brushing for 2 minutes twice daily and flossing at least once daily. When you are finished brushing your teeth, they should feel slick and smooth to the tongue like they feel after a professional cleaning. If there is an area on the surface of any teeth that still feels “furry” then plaque is still present and should be brushed off. The tongue should also be cleaned every time the teeth are brushed.
Problem: Inadequate cleaning of teeth
Solutions: Electric toothbrush*, glide-type floss**, more frequent professional cleanings***
*Teeth are typically much cleaner after brushing for the same amount of time with an electric toothbrush compared to a manual toothbrush.
**Many people have complaints of flossing being uncomfortable, difficult, or even painful. Newer glide types of floss make flossing a much better experience than traditional floss that is prone to shredding.
***Professional cleanings are recommended at least every 6 months for the average person
Environment of Mouth
Occasionally caries are still a problem even with proper hygiene and diet. This can be caused by environmental factors including “bad” bacteria in the mouth, low flow of saliva, or low pH (high acidity) of saliva.
Problem: “Bad” bacteria
Solutions: Bacteria modification through probiotics, such as OralBiotic Blis or Evoraplus, and/or mouth rinse prescribed by your dentist
Problem: Low salivary flow caused by older age or medication
Solution: Xylitol (sugar-free) gum or hard candy to promote saliva flow
Problem: Low salivary pH (high acidity)
Solution: Fluoride toothpaste or gel trays prescribed by your dentist to promote remineralization.