So you have a great daily tooth brushing regimen that keeps your teeth looking their best. You avoid drinking soda and limit the amount of sugar you consume as part of your diet. Best of all, you make regularly scheduled visits to see your downtown Portland dentist, Dr. Jason Bajuscak. So why do you still get the occasional cavity?
Turns out that some people are just a little more cavity prone than others. While this increased risk of cavities comes from, in part, an individual’s lifestyle choices, there are also a number of reasons that are simply out of our control.
So that your next visit to see your downtown Portland dentist is a cavity-free one, here are a few of the lesser-known causes of cavities that have nothing to do with sugar or poor oral hygiene habits.
Weak Tooth Enamel
Enamel is the hard outer layer of our teeth that works to protect the delicate roots, pulp and nerves found inside. Cavities develop when tooth enamel becomes worn down by plaque, a sticky biofilm made of harmful oral bacteria that clings to the surface of our teeth. Once parts of your enamel have eroded away, oral bacteria can start destroying the next layer of your teeth, called the dentin. The stronger your tooth enamel, the less likely you are to develop cavities and the effects of tooth decay.
For some people who have a higher risk of developing cavities because they have tooth enamel that’s more fragile and softer. Poor enamel quality is often the result of genetics, but it can also be the result of wearing braces and of certain daily habits. Those habits include sipping on soda and other sugary drinks or eating a high-carb or high-sugar diet.
Do have a habit of reaching for a handful of chips or pretzels while sitting at your desk throughout the day? Do you always keep a box of crackers by your side while watching TV at night? If so, your snacking habit may be harming your oral health.
Unlike when we eat a larger meal like lunch or dinner, our mouths produce very little saliva throughout most of the day. When we snack, especially on carbs that tend to remove moister from the mouth like crackers, we reduce the amount of saliva in our mouths even more.
Saliva acts as the body’s natural defense mechanism against plaque and other types of decay causing bacteria. During a large meal, the mouth produces more saliva in an effort to help flush food particles and bacteria from the mouth. But during snacking the mouth produces almost no extra saliva, which allows these substances to remain in the mouth for longer.
Plaque uses these sugars in the carbs and foods we eat to produce acids that directly contribute to enamel erosion and cavities. So by constantly snacking, you provide plaque with a never ending smorgasbord of fuel it can use to damage the long-term health of your teeth.
Brushing Right After Eating
Brushing twice a day does more than just making your downtown Portland dentist happy, it helps to remove harmful oral bacteria and food particles that remain in the mouth after eating from the surface of your teeth and gums. So if brushing twice is a good thing, then brushing after every meal is even better, right? Well, no actually.
Brushing immediately following a meal or after successfully sipping a soda can empty can actually do more harm than good. Here’s why. After we drink or eat, acids from plaque sit on our teeth attacking our tooth enamel and causing it to soften. If you brush before your enamel has a chance to harden, your toothpaste can act like an abrasive and damage your teeth. It’s often better to just rinse your mouth out with clean water than it is to brush immediately following every meal.
High ph Level
Your mouth exists as a delicate ecosystem. When healthy, it should have a balanced pH level that is neither too base or acidic. Patients who tend to have a naturally higher pH level in their mouths are more susceptible to developing cavities. Fortunately, this is something you can have Dr. Bajuscak address during your next appointment. Dr. Bajuscak can take a saliva sample to determine the pH level of your mouth. Dr. Bajuscak will then be able to have a conversation with you about how to bring your mouth’s pH level back to balance, which could include a diet with more alkaline-producing foods, such as legumes and veggies.
Genetically Predisposed to Cavities
Certain types of genetic variations could be linked to higher rates of tooth decay and gum disease, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh. In their 2010 study, researchers analyzed the dental records of 300 patients and discovered a variation in a gene that plays a vital role in first-line immune response against invading germs.
Genetics can also have an impact on the type of germs in an individual’s mouth. If a person is genetically predisposed to having more harmful germs than normal, they are automatically at a higher risk for developing cavities and decay when compared to someone who has a more balanced oral microbiome.