Reducing the Bacteria in the Mouth That Cause Tooth Decay
During the holiday season, candy becomes quite easy to grab. For those of us with a sweet tooth, though, the sugary temptations are present year-round. If this describes you, we have some good news for you, but proceed with caution. Contrary to popular belief, sugar does not directly cause cavities. In reality, sugar causes tooth decay when the mouth is filled with cavity-causing bacteria that turns sugar into acids that damage the enamel. If you have a higher instance of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth, you are at a higher risk of developing cavities by eating sugar.
Therefore, the key to protecting your teeth from cavities, especially if you have a sweet tooth is to reduce the bacteria in the mouth that cause tooth decay. The bacteria in your mouth exists on a biofilm on tooth surfaces called plaque. When sugar and leftover food accumulates in the mouth, the bacteria are able to thrive and then produce acid. Preventing the buildup of plaque that helps disease-causing bacteria grow is the best way to avoid cavities. In addition to consuming sweets only in moderation, some ways you can reduce these cavity-causing bacteria include:
- Practicing regular dental hygiene.
For plaque to grow enough to support bacteria, it typically must be in the mouth for 12-24 hours. For this reason, following the recommended guidelines for dental hygiene will help combat the development of cavities. Dentists recommend implementing simple habits like brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes each, and flossing once a day with 18-24 inches of dental floss.
- Drink more water.
Drinking water, and particularly water with fluoride, is one easy way to help prevent cavities. When you consume sweets, unwanted sugar can be left behind on the teeth. Water will help clean your mouth and prevent the sugar from producing acid that wears away the enamel. Water also has the ability to dilute the acid that bacteria in the mouth produces. In addition, if your saliva supply is low, dry mouth puts you at risk of tooth decay. Water can help guarantee that your mouth produces saliva at an optimal speed. One helpful tip is to swish water around the mouth after snacking, then wait about 30 minutes to brush your teeth if you are able.
- Use decay-fighting supplements.
Did you know that you can actually use decay-fighting supplements to give the agents in your mouth an extra boost? For patients with low saliva flow, a saliva supplement can help your mouth clear excess bacteria. In addition, products that contain xylitol can help inhibit bacteria growth. There are certain oral liquid prescription products, multivitamins, and even chewing gums that can contain xylitol. Please consult with the team at Austell Dental Associates or with your standard dental provider before taking any supplements. We will help to determine if you could benefit from supplements, and which ones would be best for your needs.
- Keep your oral pH alkaline with products like alkaline oral cleanses.
When it comes to preventing cavities, the goal is to keep your oral pH as alkaline as possible. This will prevent bacteria from forming and keep the plaque ‘immature.’ Immature dental plaque is regarded as normal because it continuously exists on the tooth’s surface. Most plaque hardens within 48 hours of formation to become mature. Keeping the oral pH alkaline will help slow this process.
Seeking Aid with Cavity Prevention?
When it comes to dental priorities, every patient has different concerns. Whether your main concern is preventing cavities from sugar consumption or generally improving your oral health, the team at Austell Dental Associates will support you along the way. Some of the services we provide that help with cavity prevention include:
- Dental cleanings
- Dental X-Rays
- At-home care advice
- Dental exams
- Oral hygiene aids
To find out how we can help you prevent cavities and maintain strong oral health, call us at (770) 467-3888 or contact us online.