Most people know when they have a cavity...they can either see it on their tooth, or unfortunately, they feel it...OUCH! But there are certain things that many of our patients don't know about cavities that could save them a trip to Thomas Family Dentistry here in Broken Arrow, OK! Take a LOOK ...
> NOT ALL SUGARS ARE CREATED EQUAL. It's quite well known that eating dietary sugars in excess along with poor oral hygiene can lead to dental decay. This is due to the fact that the bacteria in the mouth feed on these sugars and form acids as a byproduct of that process, which in turn can disslove the protective enamel of the tooth. But did you know that Xylitol, a sugar alcohol derived from birch or corn that is commonly used in sugar-free gum, actually prevents the bacteria from converting sugars into harmful acids.
> NOT WHAT YOU EAT BUT HOW YOU EAT. Did you know that "grazing," the art of contant snacking, can actually contribute to cavities and other oral health problems! Every time a carbohydrate is consumed, the bacteria in the mouth produce acid, which lowers the pH of the saliva. Constant eating does not allow the saliva to ever return to it's neutral state, which is more alkaline. It actually takes saliva about 20 minutes to neutralize the acids in the mouth after eating. So sipping on pop, lemon water, or a latte throughout the day is especially harmful! From a dental cavity risk stand point, it is always best to consume any food or drinks that contain sugar all at once and not over the course of the day.
> FLOSSING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ORIGINALLY THOUGHT. Although flossing is considered as an after thought by most patients, the toothbrush cannot actually reach many of the areas that are coated by bacteria and food debris. In fact, it is said that brushing alone does not clean about 54% of the tooth structure, mainly between the teeth and below the gumline.
> A DRY MOUTH. The mouth's best defense against cavities and tooth decay is actually the saliva! As the importance of the neutralizing effect that the saliva's pH has on cavity prevention has been previously stated, the drier the mouth, the higher the risk for tooth decay. A dry mouth can be caused by many factors like common medications and simple aging. Using a dry mouth toothpaste, sipping on water and chewing gum that contains xylitol can actually be easy ways to decrease the dryness.
> OVER-BRUSHING. If you brush like a construction worker with a jackhammer, you should ease up! Brushing too hard, especially with a firm or hard toothbrush, can actually scrape away at the enamel. Thinning the enamel increases the risk for decay. Brush lighly, with the toothbrush angled at the gumline for two minutes, twice a day. Remember the dental motto, brush longer, NOT harder!