We know of course that cavities are caused by tooth decay. It’s not a process that happens instantly. Cavities develop over time as plaque forms and the acids in plaque attack your tooth’s enamel. The naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth is happy to feed on sugars found in the food and drink that you ingest, aiding in the development of the acid. There are, however, some unexpected catalysts of cavities that may make you more prone to need tooth-colored fillings.
Saliva is super-important to the mouth, helping to neutralize bacteria and acids and aiding in food digestion and swallowing. But undiagnosed food allergies can cause a saliva imbalance. When an allergen is introduced to your system, you may have more thick than thin saliva (the two should both be present in the mouth), which holds on to bacteria and allows it to stick to the teeth and gums. What is normally washed away by the thin saliva sticks around and this saliva imbalance creates a breeding ground for cavities to form.
One side effect of certain medications is dry mouth. And anything that causes dry mouth creates an area ripe for cavities to develop, as well as gum disease, because there isn’t enough saliva to wash away food and plaque from your teeth. You can drink water and hydrate continuously through the day but it will not fully take the place of the absent saliva. What you need to do is produce more saliva and, short of going off of your medication, you can do that by using products containing xylitol. Xylitol, often found in sugarless gum, is a natural sweetener that can buffer acids and help restore saliva.
Losing weight is a major change to your body that can impact your dental health if you’re not going about it in a healthy way. Fad diets that are heavy on starch consumption will keep your teeth showered in bacteria. And if you’re working out and relying on energy drinks to fuel yourself, make sure they’re followed by water and brushing, because the sugars in these thirst quenchers are cavity creators too.
Depression can be an all-encompassing affliction, and for the people who suffer daily from this disease their teeth are probably the last thing on their mind. Dental health can quickly take a backseat. People may not have the energy, desire, or care enough to brush and floss daily to maintain good oral health. Many people with depression are just doing what they can to survive every day, and those who are taking antidepressants may also suffer from dry mouth. All of these factors combined are guaranteed to create the breeding ground for tooth decay.
Determining Your Risk for Tooth Decay
Everyone has the potential to develop cavities, though certain factors make it even more of a certainty, like frequent snacking or sipping (which continuously bathes your teeth in acid and bacteria), eating foods that cling to your teeth (honey, caramel, dried fruit, chips), tooth location (back teeth are harder to reach and tougher to keep clean), dry mouth, heartburn, age, eating disorders, and of course inadequate brushing.
Schedule your personal consultation with Dr. Yolanda Cintron at Fort Lauderdale’s International Center for Dental Excellence to learn more about non-mercury tooth fillings and biocompatibility testing. Your lifestyle impacts your oral health, and your unique genetic makeup does too. As a holistic dentist, Dr. Cintron can determine the best course of treatment to aid you in achieving total health and wellness.