One of the reasons we wash our hands during the day is to prevent the harmful effects of germs we’ve been exposed to. By minimizing germ exposure, it’s much easier to avoid getting a cold or the flu than endure the misery and loss of time these illnesses cause.
The same is true for dental problems. You’d rather avoid a cavity than need to have one repaired – right? Although daily home care and regular dental cleanings help to prevent problems from occurring in the first place, certain factors can heighten our susceptibility.
By knowing what can place you at higher risk for cavities, gum disease and other oral health problems, you can avoid many. These include:
• High Levels Of Bacteria – We all have bacteria in our bodies. However, there are two types (abbreviated as SM and LB) that have been found to be particularly harmful to teeth. People who have higher levels of these bacteria have proven to also have
a higher risk for tooth decay. Additionally, these bacteria are contagious and can be passed to another through food sharing or kissing.
• Inadequate Saliva Flow – Saliva is the mouth’s natural rinsing agent, helping to continually move bacteria out of the mouth. Certain medications, age, or particular foods and beverages can contribute to dry mouth. A dry mouth offers an ideal breeding ground for oral bacteria growth and reproduction. The more bacteria in the mouth, the higher your risks for the formation of cavities and gum disease. Plus, a dry mouth leads to stinky breath!
• Deep Pits & Grooves – The pits and grooves of back teeth provide havens for oral bacteria. Some people have very deep pits and grooves, creating a warm, moist hideout that is ideal for bacteria growth. The same is true for crowded, crooked teeth. Their tight angles make brushing less effective and provide nooks for bacterial buildup.
• High Sugar Diet – Bacteria in your mouth thrive on refined sugar. From this, an acid is produced which attacks tooth enamel. When this acid combines with the digestive acids in the mouth that occur each time you eat or drink, you get a double whammy that actually softens tooth enamel for 20 or so minutes after eating. This leaves teeth especially vulnerable to oral bacteria.
• Exposed Tooth Roots – Aging, too rigorous brushing, or bite misalignment can cause gum tissues to pull away from teeth. This can expose the darker, sensitive portions of a tooth’s root. While this distracts from the appearance of a smile, it also increases the potential for tooth decay.
Rather than devote the time and expense to repair cavities or gum disease, take easy measures to prevent them in the first place!
1). Wetter is better! Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. If you take medications that are drying, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are alternative medications that have less drying side effects. Limit alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods — all drying to the mouth. And, the worst cause of oral dryness – smoking. Your smile is another reason to kick the habit!
2). Keep oral bacteria levels under control with the help of antibacterial rinses. While these aid in replenishing oral moisture, those containing chlorhexidine also help to reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth.
3). If your teeth have deep grooves and pits, ask your dentist about sealants to cover and protect these areas. Vulnerable teeth can also be protected with inlays, onlays or crowns. Crowded or crooked teeth can be straightened with orthodontic realignment. However, crowns or veneers may be sufficient in restoring proper alignment to selected teeth (and a more appealing smile in the process!).
4). Limit snacking between meals. Anytime you eat or drink (other than water), your mouth reacts by producing a digestive acid that attacks tooth enamel. Try to stick with the ‘3-squares’ rule and limit sugar and carbohydrates. Because the acid from refined sugar is most harmful to teeth and gums, limiting sweets will help you avoid oral problems (AND keep your waistline in check, too!).
5). Be committed to your daily oral care regimen at home. Twice daily brushing and flossing are the best ways to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Use a soft to medium tooth brush and fluoridated toothpaste, brush at least two minutes per time and avoid using a scrubbing motion. Be highly committed to your 6-month cleanings and exams. These appointments are structured to create a ‘clean slate’ in your mouth so you can maintain a healthy smile between visits.
We want to help you avoid the need for dental repairs and time in the treatment chair! During your next visit, ask how you can have a healthier smile, fresher breath, and spend less on dental repairs. Or, call us to arrange a no-cost consultation: 1-877-966-90009.