Measure Your Risk For Dental Problems

Posted on Oct 22, 2012 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

You’d rather avoid a cavity altogether than have it repaired – right? Although daily home care and regular dental cleanings help prevent problems from occurring, some people are more susceptible to decay than others. The following can place you at higher risk:
High Levels Of Bacteria – All people have bacteria in their bodies; however, two kinds (abbreviated as SM and LB) are especially harmful to teeth. Those who have higher levels of these bacteria are naturally at greater risk for tooth decay. These bacteria are also contagious.
Poor Saliva – Saliva helps to move bacteria out of the mouth. Certain medications, age, or particular foods and beverages can contribute to dry mouth.
Deep Pits & Grooves – Back teeth, especially, have pits and grooves which can harbor bacteria. Some people have very deep pits and grooves, creating a warm, moist, dark hideout that is ideal for bacteria growth.
High Sugar Diet – Bacteria in your mouth thrive on refined sugar. From this, an acid is produced which attacks tooth enamel.
Exposed Tooth Roots – Aging, overzealous brushing, or an improper bite can cause gums to pull away from teeth, exposing tooth roots. While this distracts from the appearance of your smile, it also increases the potential for decay to occur in this susceptible area of the tooth.

Now that you know what “ups” your risk for cavities, here are some tips to help you prevent them in the first place!
• Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water. If you are taking medications that are drying, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are alternative medications that are less drying to your mouth. Decrease your intake of alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods. If you smoke, give it up!
• Bacteria levels can be kept under control with the help of antibacterial rinses. Those that contain chlorhexidine are best for tackling harmful bacteria in the mouth.
• Teeth with deep grooves and pits can be protected in several ways. Sealants can cover these areas on a temporary basis. For extended protection, replacing fillings with inlays, onlays or crowns help to shield the tooth.
• Watch what you eat and how often you eat. Eat healthy. Anytime you consume a food or beverage (other than water), your mouth responds by producing acid. This acid attacks tooth enamel. The acid from refined sugar is most harmful.
• Be committed to your daily oral care regimen. Twice daily brushing and flossing will improve your odds for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

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