“I eat healthy!  I don’t eat sweets or candy and  I don’t put sugar in my coffee and I avoid deserts. How did I get this cavity?”


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This is often the reaction I get when a patient is  told they have a cavity. We forget that  carbohydrates in some healthy foods breakdown into sugars that are used by the bacteria to create cavities. These include fruits and starchy vegetables, whole wheat bread, pasta brown rice, potatoes only to mention a few. Don’t forget white rice and pasta , cereal, oatmeal, pita bread, roti, crackers and chips.

So good oral health is dependant on many factors. Let’s start with proper and frequent removal of oral bacteria that includes brushing, flossing and even oral rinsing. These should be done daily based on your need and current periodontal condition.

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Regular dental cleanings by your hygienist and examinations by the dentists are also part of this overall care. The frequency should be determined based on your ability to remove plaque or tendency to build tartar. Your nutrition plays a huge factor in your oral health as well and your immune system.


So how are cavities formed?

Most of us are aware that sugar in our diet cause cavities. The bacteria feed off the leftover sugars and produce acids that then attack the enamel tooth surface leaving it damaged. This is the formation of the cavity. Other bacteria multiply and live along the gum surface creating a film that irritates the gum causing bleeding (gingivitis) and irritating the bone causing bone loss (periodontitis).

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So not only what you eat but also how often you eat  has a huge impact  on cavities and gum disease.

Fruit juices and sodas are significant factors in causing cavities. Fruit juices should be diluted and limit the soda consumption. Lemon water, even though healthy for our gut, is bad for the enamel. Long term consumption will lead to enamel erosion which in turn can cause tooth sensitivity.  Even your glass of wine and your so called “healthy” sport drink are  very acidic fort he teeth. MODERATION is key and avoid sipping them through out the day. One tip that may help is sipping water after these drinks or eat cheese to help neutralize the acids. Not all dairy products are the same since some do contain hidden or added sugars. Don’t brush your teeth for 30 minutes after consuming theses acidic drinks to allow the saliva to remineralize the surface.

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Avoid frequent snacking unless you are on a special diet. If you are then make it a point to brush and floss more frequently and drink more water. Fluoridated tap water is recommended since fluoride helps strengthen teeth against the acids.

Xylitol, a natural sugar alcohol, found in many foods can help reduce cavities. It reduces the levels of cavity causing bacteria and is not converted to acids like the happens with other sugars. INTERESTING FACT xylitol also reduces some bacteria that cause ear infections. Xylitol is found in gum and certain candies that are prescribed to reduce risk of cavities. So I would suggest having a piece of xylitol gum if you can’t brush.

I hope this helps you better understand the factors that created that cavity you have. Oh ya, don’t forget GENETICS. It also plays a factor on cavities but you have little to no control over that.


Thanks Sherina for the information and tips.

Feedback is always welcome

Dr. Sharon Walden




I often get asked the question “How long do I need to wear this wire behind my teeth after orthodontics?”  “I have had this wire on my bottom teeth for so long and I hate to floss. Can I take it off?”

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So for those of you who suffered through years of orthodontics, wires, elastics and that metallic taste you DO NOT want your teeth to get crowded again. So we, myself included, put up with this wire glued to our front teeth and the hassle of flossing under it. I knew I was not the greatest flosser when it came to those front teeth. I did try with floss threader and super floss but it was not done daily. The idea is to hold our teeth in the perfect position but at what cost? I felt my teeth were straight but I was neglecting the gums and bone. So when my wire broke it was the best opportunity after 10 years to remove the rest of the wire and make a removable retainer that I would wear daily to hold the teeth in position and be able to floss with greater ease. I was in the clear.

When patients ask me if they can remove the wire I tell them that they can. They will have an  easier time flossing BUT the MUST wear a removable retainer that will prevent the teeth form shifting back and crowding. The retainers are now made with clear material that can be worn day or night and are very comfortable. I know your gums will appreciate it and so will your hygienist when they need to clean all the tartar and stain that never gets removed.

More orthodontist go with a removable retainer option if they feel that you are responsible enough to remember to wear it. For those patients less responsible the fixed retainer will be the better option. However, it can be replaced later on to a removable one once we feel hygiene is a problem or removable option can be worn reliably.

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So if you have a retainer that you struggle to keep clean, or is broken just ask us how we can make your flossing routine easier and more regular.


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Smiling burns more calories.

Dr. Sharon Walden