The bane of teeth everywhere, cavities creep into our teeth like a monster under the bed. A twinge of pain here, a twang of sensitivity there, and you have that dreaded feeling that all is not well in your mouth – again.
Friends and family tease you, asking, “Why are you always getting cavities?” and “Stop eating so much sugar.”
While some of us cruise through life without a single cavity, others, no matter their efforts of cutting back sugar, constant brushing, etc., can’t seem to leave the dentist’s chair without needing a filling.
Why do I get so many cavities?
It’s a question some of us are plagued with. Of course, diet does affect the health of our teeth and gums, but when it comes to cavity frequency, there are a lot more factors at play, including:
- Genes, bacteria type and medical history – Some of us are born with teeth much more susceptible to harmful bacteria like plaque, and some unlucky folks have certain bacteria types that cause heavy calculus/tartar build up or decay. So, no matter the dental care routine, sometimes genes, bacteria types (even medical history, medications or immune systems) can make cavities much more common in certain people.
- Tooth anatomy – Another factor out of your control, if teeth are crowded together, bacteria can hide in those hard-to-reach spots that only a dentist can get at. Fortunately, you can take steps to fix tooth anatomy through options like braces, Invisalign, etc.
- Poor dental hygiene – If you’re not brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once per day, then you’re leaving your teeth and gums open for all kinds of bacteria to invade.
- Receding gums – When the gums wear or pull away from the teeth, it creates gaps and exposes the root of the tooth. This allows bacteria to burrow in and attack this softer, much more sensitive (and much harder to brush) area of the teeth.
- Bruxism (tooth grinding) – Physical teeth grinding can wear through the enamel right into the softer dentin layer of teeth, where bacteria can cause more damage. Often, people grind their teeth through the night, and a custom-fit nightguard is an ideal option to help protect their teeth.
- Dry mouth – Our saliva is pretty amazing stuff, and when there’s a lack of it, problems can follow. Not only does saliva help to wash away plaque and other bacteria, it actually neutralizes acids that can wear away tooth enamel.
- Diet – Yes, this is still a big factor worth mentioning. If you indulge in high-sugar foods and drinks, your teeth are more susceptible to cavities. This is another reason why brushing your teeth between every meal isn’t a bad idea.
- Lack of fluoride – The perfect amount of fluoride helps to keep our teeth strong, and if we aren’t getting enough through our water, toothpaste, mouthwash, or regular treatments at the dentist, your teeth are more likely to develop cavities.
How to stop getting cavities
Fortunately, even if you are more susceptible to getting cavities, there are still safeguards you can take that will help slow those “plaque attacks” and keep your teeth and gums healthier.
Get fillings sooner than later
First things first, if you do have a cavity, it can be tempting to just ignore it, especially if the pain isn’t too bad (sometimes you might not even feel any pain). However, this means there’s nothing to stop that bacteria from continuing to eat away at your teeth. If you don’t address it, you risk invasive and costly procedures down the road, such as a root canal or even a tooth extraction– so be sure to book a tooth filling earlier rather than later.
Visit the dentist at least twice each year
This is to clean away plaque and tartar buildup and to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy through X-rays and a physical examination that includes a gum-depth check, fluoride treatment, whitening and more.
Practice proper dental hygiene
Brush twice daily (don’t forget to brush your tongue) and floss and rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash at least once daily to keep those pearly whites pearly and white and free of bacteria.
Watch what you’re eating
Make sure you’re eating as healthy a diet as possible. If you do eat something sugary, do so in one sitting (avoiding grazing and therefore a longer exposure) and then rinse your mouth out with water. Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco, too.
Get a custom night guard
If you grind your teeth at night, your dentist can fit you with a custom mouthguard to help protect your teeth while you sleep. You’ll likely experience a better night’s sleep, too!
Ask your dentist
See if your dentist recommends any products you can try to keep your teeth healthier and cavity-free!