“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?”
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.
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).
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.
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.
LET US HELP KEEP YOU SMILING….
Thanks Sherina for the information and tips.
Feedback is always welcome
Dr. Sharon Walden