Many patients think they know everything they need to about going to the dentist. But it’s a common misconception that dental treatments have stayed the same for decades. You may...
Feel like your oral hygiene is on point, but still discovering cavities at your dental exams? It’s time to take a closer look at your daily habits, and which ones might be resulting in enamel erosion or plaque buildup.
Am I at a heightened risk of developing tooth decay?
Everyone from infants to adults are at risk for developing cavities. But there are a few inducing factors that can increase your risks of being more susceptible to developing cavities:
Location of the tooth
Tooth decay is most commonly found in your back molars and premolars. These teeth are where your food is broken down before swallowing and these teeth have a lot of grooves, pits, and multiple roots that can collect food particles. The back teeth are more difficult to keep clean than the smooth surfaces of your front teeth are, and in trade, are more susceptible to cavities.
Lack of fluoride
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps to prevent cavities by restoring the tooth enamel. At the early stages of tooth decay, fluoride can even help to prevent cavities from forming and reverse tooth damage. Increase your fluoride intake by using fluoride toothpaste and using a mouth rinse specifically for restoring the tooth enamel.
If you have a lack of natural saliva in your mouth, you could be experiencing dry mouth. Saliva helps to prevent tooth decay by washing away food plaque from your teeth, and substances found in saliva also help to counter the acid produced by bacteria from ingested foods. Certain medications can have dry mouth as a side effect, so check with your doctor and dentist if you notice a decrease in your mouth’s saliva production.
Frequent heartburn, or acid reflux can cause stomach acid to flow into the mouth, wearing away at the enamel on your teeth and causing significant tooth decay. If acid reflux is causing your tooth decay issues, consulting with your doctor on ways to treat your issue is recommended.
Stomach acid from repeated vomiting washes over the teeth and begins to dissolve your tooth enamel. Anorexia and bulimia can lead to significant tooth erosion and cavities. If you’re battling an issue with an eating disorder, you are not alone, and there are resources to help.
Your diet could be a decay culprit
Frequent snacking or drinking
When you’re constantly snacking on foods throughout the day, or drinking anything that contains sugar, you’re allowing for a constant veil of plaque causing bacteria to cover the surfaces of your teeth. Even if you brush twice a day, your teeth are still being covered by sugar and food debris for hours at a time.
Eating certain foods and drinks
Eating foods that are sticky and cling to your teeth for a long period of time, even after chewing and swallowing are more likely to cause decay than foods that are easily washed away with rinsing or saliva. These foods have a lingering effect in your mouth:
- Dried fruit
- Hard or chewy candies
- Dry cereal
Solution to snacking
Instead of snacking throughout the day, try eating more filling meals and brushing your teeth after you eat. If you do snack throughout the day, or eat a food that lingers on your teeth, be sure to rinse your mouth well with water after you have eaten to help decrease the harmful bacteria and increase your saliva production.
It might be time to check in on your brushing and flossing
Proper brushing takes at a minimum of two minutes – that’s right, 120 seconds! If you brush your teeth in under a minute, and don’t take the time to properly brush all tooth surfaces, you’re not getting your teeth really clean. To properly brush your teeth:
- Use short, gentle strokes on all tooth surfaces
- Make sure to clean every tooth in your mouth
- Pay extra attention to hard-to-reach back teeth and around areas you already have fillings, crowns, or other restoration dental work
- Don’t forget to brush your tongue for fresher breath
Make sure your dental products fulfill your needs (and preferences, too)
No single toothbrush or toothpaste is going to save you from ever having another cavity. Achieving effective oral hygiene at home is possible by following a few simple guidelines:
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to help protect your sensitive gum tissue
- A smaller brush head will help you brush hard-to-reach places in your mouth
- Consider switching to an electric toothbrush, especially if you have limited manual dexterity.
- Use the right toothpaste for your teeth with this helpful guide
Your daily cleaning routine really makes a difference in your long-term oral health. If you’re feeling cavity prone no matter what hygiene habits you have, ask for a personal recommendation from Hoffman Dental Care at your next check-up so we can get your teeth back on track together.