Do you every wonder why some people get cavities more than others? Are you one of those people? It takes more than brushing, flossing and “fillings” to make your mouth healthy. If fact, we now know that dental caries, the disease that causes cavities, is more complicated than previously thought and has now reached epidemic levels in children and adults.
Today, science shows us new trends in how to manage dental caries, including new risk assessment tools, detection technology and prevention strategies. It moves dental care away from a treatment focus of “drilling and filling” towards a prevention and healing model of care. It’s all there and available now to allow people and dental providers alike to prevent, stop or reverse tooth decay. It’s now possible that you can keep your teeth for life.
How Do Cavities Form?
Tooth decay, or dental caries, is caused by a bacterial imbalance on your teeth. The imbalance is affected by your individual oral “environment”, your diet and your oral hygiene habits. By discovering what is causing your imbalance and making changes, your bacterial imbalance can be controlled, thereby reducing or eliminating the liklihood of developing cavities.
We all have a layer of bacteria on our teeth that is called a biofilm. It’s similiar to that slippery film that covers rocks in a pond or river. Studies suggest that in your mouth, the film develops when the pH, or acidity level, of your saliva is thrown off. A more acid, low pH, environment allows cavity-causing bacteria to thrive while reducing the levels of desirable healthy bacteria. An acid environment also causes teeth to lose minerals, causing structural breakdown. It all follows a cascading effect leading to cavity after cavity that continues until the healthy dental biofilm is restored and the pH is corrected.
Am I at Risk for Cavities?
Like any disease, dental caries has certain known risk factors that increase the liklihood of developing cavities. Which of these risk factors are present in your life?
Current tooth decay
Current bacteria imbalance
History of tooth decay
Reduced saliva flow
Wearing braces or using an oral appliance
Oral hygiene habits
Having multiple risk factors doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to have cavities now or in the future; there’s simply a greater risk. However, with that knowledge you can make certain changes to reduce your risk.
If you’d like to learn more about your specific risks for tooth decay and cavities, the hygienists at NHCCD are trained in testing and evaluating your oral pH and bacterial load. In just minutes you’ll have the information you need to start creating a healthier environment in your mouth for healthier and stronger teeth.