In last month's column, we discussed bacteria and diet as two major factors in tooth decay. This month, we look at three more factors:
HYGIENE--Your personal hygiene routine may vary, but it will usually include flossing, brushing and maybe additional steps such as mouthwash or a water pik. I'd like to touch on the recent flossing controversy: If you're not flossing, you are not removing material from the sides and corners of your teeth. Finally, research shows improved plaque removal with an electric toothbrush. I like both Sonicare and Oral B/Braun.
SALIVA--Minerals found in saliva, such as calcium and phosphates, naturally buffer our mouth pH and boost tooth strength, so a reduction in saliva can be detrimental to your teeth. One common issue we see is medication-induced saliva reduction. If you have this issue, keep your mouth moist by increasing water intake or using mouth rinses, lozenges or gel drops (not containing sugar). Make sure to discuss hygiene with your dental health professional.
PROTECTIVE FACTORS--Topical fluoride is a natural element in our environment. Much like the calcium in saliva, fluoride incorporates into the tooth's surface to make the tooth more resistant to acids. Fluoride also prevents certain bacteria from producing harmful acids, so regular fluoride use can protect your teeth from cavities.
It's important to remember that there are more factors involved in reducing cavities than just brushing your teeth more or eating less candy. I hope you've enjoyed some sugar-free food for thought!
Gates Family Dentistry
29990 Town Center Loop W
Wilsonville, OR 97070