Preventing Cavities by Watching These Risk Factors

Watching out for those risk factors that contribute most to cavities can help preserve your healthy smile. This awareness can give you a fighting chance of keeping plaque at bay, so that you can prevent problems before they occur.

Sugar – eating healthy foods can work with your saliva by being easy to remove. The problem with sugary, or starchy foods is that they can cling to your teeth, promoting tooth decay. Plaque, that sticky bacterial film that coats your teeth is actually more prevalent with certain kinds of foods and drinks. Saliva washes away oral debris, especially with foods like celery, apples, and carrots which don’t cling to the teeth. However, things like milk, honey, soda, cookies, dried fruit, and chips are examples of the type of things that saliva has trouble removing because they like to stick to your pearly whites.

Acid – if you like snacking or sipping drinks throughout the day, keep in mind that this feeds the bacteria in your mouth that produce acids, and these acids erode your tooth enamel.  If you are a big soda or fruit juice drinker, limit your intake or drink through a straw to minimize contact with your teeth. Rinse with water often to encourage healthy saliva levels.

Location – where your teeth sit in the mouth plays an important factor in their susceptibility to decay. Your molars (and also premolars) located in the back of the mouth are the most at-risk for cavities. Their location makes it hard to reach and brush, not to mention flossing between them. This, combined with the pits and fissures on their surface where oral debris accumulates makes them vulnerable to dental caries.

A few other factors contributing to cavity development include:

— Not brushing often enough or soon enough after eating, which allows plaque to grow.

— Having a condition called dry mouth where you produce less than optimal saliva.

— Having old or worn-out dental fillings and dental appliances like dentures where plaque can hide.

To help prevent cavities in your smile, be proactive by brushing and flossing daily, seeing your dentist for periodic cleanings and exams, staying well hydrated, eating healthy, and limiting snacking.

To schedule your next dental cleaning with one of our caring dentists, please call our Smiles Dental team in Salem, Oregon at 503.877.1844.  Dr. Cheryl Cooper, Dr. Theron Nebeker, and Dr. Ken Waddell are all happy to help restore your smile!