Sometimes, just knowing your level of risk is enough to help you avoid the risk. This is certainly a possibility with cavities. Knowing that you have a high risk of cavities can help you make better decisions about your oral care. Luckily, our understanding of what causes cavities and what risk factors seem to matter most in cavity formation has grown, giving us more and better information about avoiding caries (cavity) disease.
Your dentist should help you properly measure your risk of cavities and develop a preventative plan, but there are some simple questions you can answer at home to raise your cavity risk awareness and begin the conversation with your dentist.
So, are you at high risk for cavities?
Have you had a recent cavity filled?
It should come as no surprise that if you have a recent cavity, that’s a pretty big red flag that you have a cavity disease process currently in your mouth. If you had a cavity, filling it treats the symptom, but it does not change the causes that developed that cavity in the first place. Talk to your CAMBRA dentist about a treatment regimen to improve your oral health to keep cavities from having a chance to develop.
Do you suffer from dry mouth?
Yes, dry mouth is more than a mere discomfort. It is a major risk factor for cavities. Saliva actually protects teeth, washing away some of the food particles and bacteria that try to attach themselves to the teeth. It also helps keep oral pH in the healthy range, which can prevent a biofilm from overgrowing with unhealthy bacteria. Treating dry mouth with moisturizing sprays or gum can help slow caries disease.
Do you snack frequently or drink non-water beverages throughout the day?
Frequent snacking or drinking non-water beverages can be extremely hard on the teeth. It keeps oral pH low, allowing bacteria associated with cavities to overgrow in the oral biofilm, the thin layer of bacteria that stick together in each persons’ mouth. Normally, after eating the mouth uses saliva as a natural mechanism to raise the pH level back to healthy levels. Constant snacking prevents the normal process from keeping cavity causing bacteria at bay.
If you must snack, rinse with plain water after snacking and consider using a neutralizing rinse to further protect your teeth from acid damage.
Do you have white spots on your teeth?
White spot lesions are patches on the enamel that have lost minerals. Not having proper minerals to keep enamel structure in tact can lead to weak spots that are more susceptible to cavity disease. Fluoride is commonly used to strengthen enamel, and it does a good job. Combining it with nano-hydroxyapatite is better and can build up even stripped patches of enamel. It’s worth remembering that even though white spots are not, themselves, cavities, they are weak spots and can serve as an early warning sign of disease process starting in the mouth.
If you find yourself answering yes to any of these questions, schedule yourself a visit at the dentist and check in to see if you can make some changes that will keep your teeth healthy and away from the dental drill and fillings.