We have a couple of patients at D4 Dentist – let’s call them John and Mary – that have a completely different approach to oral health. Mary brushes her teeth twice per day, flosses every night, has a special scraper to remove residues and bacteria from the surface of her tongue and uses mouthwash occasionally to top it off.
On the other side, we have John, who consumes 2-4 double espressos per day and may go to bed without brushing his “not-so-pearly whites” (his words) more often than he would admit. On their yearly checkup, guess who needed five fillings?
Despite nagging John constantly about his oral hygiene, Mary was the one that had to visit us again and again while John walked away after a scale and polish. Mary, frustrated, asked: “Why Do I Get So Many Cavities?”.
This is a real story and, in fact, it is more common than you think. Why are some people more prone to cavities than others? Mary and many others are more susceptible to cavities for many reasons. Keep reading to find out what they are.
How do you get cavities?
We reinforce the importance of a consistent brushing and flossing routine, but the truth is: cleaning your teeth is not the only thing that matters. We need to look beyond that.
Think about your diet: what do you eat/drink? More importantly: how often? Maybe you don’t even have a sweet tooth, but snacks frequently. If you enjoy sipping some cups of tea or eating a bunch of grapes throughout the afternoon, be careful! Fruits, bread, dairy and even the fruit infused water with a slice of lemon can contribute to tooth decay, creating an acidic environment in your mouth.
After eating, it takes over 30 minutes for the pH of your mouth to return to a normal level. If you are constantly eating or drinking, the acidity level remains high, increasing the risk of cavities and tooth decay. During these 30 minutes, your teeth are more vulnerable to everything, including brushing. Avoid brushing them immediately after eating; otherwise, tooth enamel can be damaged or even brushed away.
Are some people more cavity-prone?
Yes, and genetics play a significant role in this. It can impact the density of the tooth enamel and lead to an increased predisposition to periodontal disease and gingivitis. The environment in your mouth – affected by factors such as reduced saliva production (dry mouth) or acidic saliva pH – could be providing the ideal setting for all sorts of bacteria, including bacteria that cause cavities.
How can I avoid cavities?
>> Brush your teeth twice a day for three minutes and don’t forget to floss to remove the plaque bacteria.
>> Be clever about how you eat sugar – Try to eat all your sugar on meal times and avoid snacking on sugary foods/fruits or high-carb foods. If you want a sweet treat, a chocolate bar, for example, it’d cause less damage to eat it in one go instead of throughout the day.
The frequency of intake – Think about saliva and the 30 minutes it needs to buffer the acid. If you’re taking a little bit of sugar every hour, for 30 minutes of this hour your teeth are potentially under attack