Common Causes of Consistently Having More Cavities
Have you ever wondered why some people get more cavities than others? They are caused by a specific type of bacteria called Streptococcus Mutans. This bacteria consumes sugar and produces acid that damage teeth. Having one or a few cavities the now and then is very common. However, some patients have cavities every check up and this can happen even with brushing, flossing and trying to avoid sugar. Sugar is present in many foods, and it is always a good idea to check the sugar content of the foods you buy and limit your daily intake of sugar. While it can be hard to avoid at times, it is sugar is a major cause of increased cavities.
The bacteria that cause cavities are actually a form of infection. This bacteria often spreads when the parents share eating utensils or a glass of liquid with their child. Here we will explain several reasons why some people get more cavities than others. While each of these could increase the chances of cavities, they could also happen together at the same time in one person, making the chance of cavities forming even larger.
Dry mouth or xerastomia
Dry mouth is a syndrome can cause very large cavities. It happens when there is less saliva flow than normal. Saliva is protective of teeth and has chemical buffers that neutralize acid. Dry mouth can appear suddenly and unexpectedly in patients and can suddenly cause cavities on many teeth, which can get large very quickly. Common causes of dry mouth are some medications like methadone, cancers or radiation treatments as well as factors like old age and some genetic conditions.
Sugars in medications or vitamins
Although children may sometimes need medications or vitamins, sometimes these products have a large amount of sugar content. Some manufactures will include sugar in to make the medicine easier for the child to take. To avoid medications or vitamins with sugar read the label and consult your pharmacist. If you have a prescribed medication that has sugar you may want to call your family doctor to discuss a possible alternative medication reduced or no sugar.
The gums cover and protect the roots of teeth. Enamel is designed to prevent decay by being sugar resistant, but it only covers the tops, or what is called the crown of the tooth. The roots are made up of a softer, bony type of material called dentin. These roots are very susceptible to tooth decay, and when they are exposed, are very prone to forming cavities. This is commonly seen in our practice, where areas of the teeth closer to the roots develop cavities far more often than areas near the crowns. Causes of gum recession are gum diseases, mouth jewelry, trauma, brushing too hard and grinding or clenching of the teeth.
Acids in foods
Foods and drinks can be acidic. Acids weaken the enamel structure, making teeth more prone to cavities. As we learned earlier in this article, the bacteria on teeth consume sugar and produce acid, which forms cavities. The acids in the food are similar and cause cavities. Most people know that drinks like soda are acidic and can cause cavities, but not many people know that some foods like fish and breads can be acidic. It is not necessary to completely avoid acid foods, but it is important to have them in moderation. Do not eat them just before bed time or the acid will be left in your mouth for a long period of time. After an acidic food is consumed, do not brush right away as the enamel has been weakened. It’s best to wait until your saliva’s natural buffering properties can neutralize the acid.
The genetic role
There are many factors that can affect the strength of your enamel and health of your gums, and genetics are one of them. You can be born with the genetic possibility of weak enamel and a poor gum strength. If you have the genetics for weakened enamel, even if you are brushing and flossing thoroughly you can have still have cavities commonly. Because of this, some people may be predisposed to having weaker teeth.
Infants who are sick can have more cavities than normal when they are older
The adult teeth are still forming and developing once you are born, and this continues until roughly the age of 18. If an infant is ill and has a fever this can affect enamel development in these early critical years. When the adult teeth come out later, they have weakened enamel which can lead to more cavities throughout life.
As we get older, our enamel wears down cracks can form in our teeth. The gum can also break down, causing root exposure. Older adults tend to have far more structural damage on teeth than younger adults because of this.
Poor oral hygiene
I sometimes see patients that never brush and yet have no cavities. They may have genetically strong enamel or high acid buffering components in their saliva and they may avoid sugary and acid foods. However, the most important thing you could do to avoid cavities is regular brushing and flushing. Poor oral hygiene can also cause gum diseases. In our practice, most teeth that are removed are a result of gum disease.
There are ways we can reduce the risk of cavities, such as fluoride toothpaste or fluoride treatment. These will not only kill the cavity causing bacteria, but they will help strengthen the enamel of teeth. Ask us during your next appointment for more information on preventing cavities, and we will be happy to help discuss available options with you.