Cavities are nothing new in dentistry. As long as people have had teeth, tooth decay has existed. Unfortunately, the real truth about cavities and how they form is often miscommunicated. Debunking some common myths about cavities may help you be more successful at preventing them.
We can all agree on one fact; cavities are not a good thing. You may think that the cavity report from your dentist at your routine exam marks whether or not your mouth is healthy. But the truth is, while we do want to avoid tooth decay at all costs, there are other oral health risks that we need to heighten our awareness on too – gum disease is a primary example. Gum disease, not cavities, is the leading cause of tooth loss.
A common phrase you possibly integrated into your belief about dental health was that sugar causes all cavities. This is only partially true. In actuality, it is not the sugar in candy and sweets that causes cavities directly. Instead, tooth decay forms in response to acid production by bacteria in your mouth. Yes, eating sugar does trigger harmful bacteria to make the acid, but this process can also be activated by other foods. Carbohydrates, such as rice, potatoes, vegetables and fruit, also cause bacteria to make acid. How do you stop this cavity forming process? Consider it less important to avoid certain foods or drinks and more important to reduce the length of time our teeth are exposed. Brushing your teeth or simply rinsing with water after eating carbohydrates or sugar can dramatically help wash away the harmful bacteria that cause cavities.
Do you think that children are more likely to get cavities? Think again. Adults and children are equally susceptible to cavities. Fortunately, the occurrence of tooth decay in school-aged children has been cut in half over the past 20 years. This can be contributed to the advantages of sealants for kids, fluorinated water and the importance placed on pediatric dentists. However, your risk for cavities carries on through life. Senior adults, for example, have an increased risk due to certain medications and medical conditions that threaten healthy teeth.
Park South Dentistry is dedicated to helping patients through all stages of life with their dental health. They can answer your questions about cavities and help you understand the truth about your specific risk for tooth decay.