How to Prevent Cavities?
If you read last week’s entry, you now know that cavities are caused not by sugar, but by acid present in your mouth. The amount of acid is directly related to the amount of bacteria, or bacterial “load”. So, the questions is, “How do you keep acid and bacteria to a minimum?”
In the last few years there has been somewhat of a paradigm shift in dentistry. For years and years we have been saying to avoid sugar, and brush and floss twice a day to prevent cavities. This is still a major, important step in keeping your mouth healthy because manually removing the plaque from your teeth with brush and floss will automatically remove a lot of bacteria from the mouth. Fluoride was introduced years ago as a weapon against cavities, and it is still utilized with a lot of success. However, we now have some new ways to manage cavities including pH balancing mouthwashes, bacteria-killing rinses and something called xylitol, which I will address in another post.
Just like your physician will prescribe specific medications to manage health issues, your dentist can prescribe specific rinses, gums and lozenges to manage cavities. Diagnosis is key, and we now have methods to test the amount of acidity in the mouth and meters to measure the bacteria load. Nowadays, all patients should be screened for “caries risk”, which means how likely you are to get new cavities. Based on this diagnosis and the results of a few tests, your dentist can tailor a plan to help you prevent cavities.
Fluoride is an important component of cavity management, because it becomes incorporated into the enamel of the teeth so the acid cannot attack it and melt it away quite as easily. pH balanced rinses like Carifree Maintenance Rinse will help keep your mouth neutral so the acid can’t attack your teeth. A mouth rinse like chlorhexidine, or Peridex, used in a specific way will kill bacteria in your mouth. The Carifree Treatment Rinse will perform the same function. All of these products must be obtained by prescription from your dentist. Xylitol is an ingredient found in widely available gums and mints. More information to come about the exciting product that actually helps prevent cavities naturally!
If you’re tired of going to the dentist every 6 months and being told that you need fillings, ask your dentist about what you can do to prevent cavities. Not only will it save you time, but it will save you money as well!
Yours in good (dental) health,
Dr. Stefanie Shore