Every surface of our body is covered in bacteria. This includes our gut, mouth, stomach, ears, and skin. Most bacteria are good, but there are always problems. In the mouth, the bad bacteria eat plaque and poop out acid. This acid causes cavities or gum disease.
When certain food, saliva and mouth bacteria are mixed, a soft film forms on the teeth. This film is called plaque.
The key to preventing cavities and gum disease is to control the acid byproduct produced when bacteria eat plaque and keep your teeth’s immune system healthy. This is done by:
- Removing plaque
- Removing tartar
- Preventing plaque from forming
- Removing food traps and plaque traps in the teeth
- Prevent dry mouth
- Proper nutrition
The key to preventing cavities and gum disease is to remove plaque. This is best done with a toothbrush and floss. The toothbrush is used to remove the plaque on the top and sides of the teeth. Floss is used to remove the plaque in between the teeth.
Teeth should be brushed twice a day. Flossing should be done at least once a day.
Tartar is plaque that has hardened on the sides of the teeth. Tartar is a tooth barnacle. It cannot be removed with a toothbrush or floss. This barnacle creates the perfect spots for plaque to become trapped and causes the formation of gum disease and cavities.
The only way to remove tartar is with dental cleaning tools. It is best for you to have a dental cleaning at least twice a year. Some people even require cleanings three to four times a year. How often you need to come depends on your hygiene, tartar build-up, how often you have cavities or if you have gum disease.
Preventing Plaque from Forming
A great way to prevent cavities and gum disease is to prevent plaque from forming. This is done by avoiding foods and drinks that allow plaque to form. These are foods and drinks filled with carbohydrates, acids, and sugar.
Some examples of foods that cause plaque to form are goldfish, pretzels, cookies, fruit snacks, potato chips, raisins, cakes, and candy. Drinks that cause plaque include soft drinks, Powerade, Gatorade, milk, juices and alcoholic beverages.
Life happens and you will sometimes eat sugary foods and drinks. Our best advice is to rinse with water, brush your teeth (if possible) or chew sugar-free gum. All these things will help prevent plaque from forming.
Preventing Food Traps and Plaque Traps
Anyone who has had dental work knows that gum recession, fillings and caps can cause floss to shred and can trap food. These problems are man-made issues. Unfortunately, they can lead to cavities and gum disease. If any of these problems are going on in your mouth, it is very important to have them looked at and repaired.
Old silver fillings and poorly placed white fillings are also the cause of plaque traps. Unfortunately, most people do not realize they are a problem. The best way to find out if any traps are in your mouth is to have x-rays taken. They will show if “traps” are present.
Prevent Dry Mouth
Saliva is used to lubricate the teeth and buffer acids. When an individual has dry mouth, they lose their ability to protect themselves from the acid produced by bacteria. Many people with dry mouth suffer from cavities that form under fillings, crowns and right where the tooth meets the gum.
The best way to deal with dry mouth is to address the cause of it. If it is caused by medication, it would be best to try and have it changed. If it is caused by a complication from a medical condition, it is best to address the condition and get it under control.
Sometimes the cause of dry mouth cannot be remedied. For example: saliva gland damage from cancer treatment or no alternative drug available to treat a disease. The best thing to do in this situation is to drink as much water as possible. Always have it with you and drink it throughout the day. Increased trips to the bathroom will occur at first, but your body will adapt, and this will slow down.
There are many different products on the market that claim to help with dry mouth. If you are interested in trying them, please do. If you like a product, use it. If you don’t, then stop using it. If nothing works for you, then drink as much water as you can.
Your teeth have their own defense system that is directly controlled by the body’s hormones. Hypothalamic hormones and parotid hormones control the health of your teeth. A high sugar diet (sugar, fruit juice, crackers, cookies, pasta, rice, Gatorade, fruit snacks, soda, white potatoes) cause an imbalance of these hormones. The imbalance reduces the tooth’s’ immune system and ability to protect itself. The tooth then becomes susceptible to cavities and gum disease.
Nutrition has a direct effect on the mouth. What you eat affects your body’s level of vitamins, minerals, hormones and blood pH. This in turn has a direct effect on how well your teeth and mouth can protect themselves and stay healthy.
To meet with our dentist and learn more Project Health in Middlebury, Connecticut, call Tribury Dental at (203) 463-4411.