If you have a mouth full of cavities, you definitely want a pocketful of solutions. The thing is, we all know change is hard. If the solutions require a lot of radical lifestyle changes for us, we’re likely to give up before any changes really have time to work their magic. Worse still, sometimes we don’t know what changes to make and where to start. Particularly if you’ve been suffering from caries disease for a long time, it may feel like there’s no solution other than incessant fillings.
Good news! There are solutions to caries disease that can interrupt the disease process and spare you from a future of constant fillings. Yes, there are some lifestyle changes involved if you completely commit to a caries prevention strategy. Don’t let that scare you off. If you just change one thing to fight your caries disease and keep new cavities from forming…
Treat Your Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is the single largest risk factor for developing cavities. It makes sense, if you take time to think about it. Saliva is your body’s natural defense mechanism for your teeth and gums. Dry mouth, not having enough saliva, robs your body of its best defense against disease causing organisms.
Saliva works to protect your teeth in multiple ways. The first way it works is by providing mechanical protection. It rinses the teeth and washes away particles that would otherwise stick to your teeth. This helps keep down the amount of bacteria living on your teeth by denying them food. Saliva also provides chemical protection for your teeth. It holds minerals that are dissolved out of your teeth when eating and drinking, making your oral environment acidic. This lets the minerals redeposit in the tooth enamel when your oral pH rebounds. Saliva also helps cause the oral pH to raise again after acidic conditions. Caries disease organisms thrive in acidic conditions, overgrowing and shifting the makeup of the oral biofilm. Acid also directly weakens the enamel, creating spots for bacteria to invade deeper into the tooth structure.
Treating your dry mouth restores your mouth’s ability to help protect itself against cavities. And, it doesn’t have to be complicated or bothersome to address it.
For starters, drinking adequate amounts of water can help replenish your body’s natural stores of saliva. For people who suffer from dry mouth as a side effect of a necessary medication, drinking water alone may not be enough. Chewing sugar free gum or sucking on sugar free candies, particularly those sweetened with xylitol, can help stimulate saliva production. Saliva substitutes, moisturizing rinses, and mouth sprays can help make up for saliva that the body just cannot produce due to medication or diseases.
Treating your dry mouth allows you to treat the single greatest risk factor for continuing to develop cavities. It’s not an overwhelming change, and it could make a huge difference for your oral health.