Quad Cities, IL/IA

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What Are You Doing to Reduce Your Risk for Decay?


Jennifer Burklow, RDC, BSDH, Dental Hygienist, Pleasant Valley Dentistry

I know summer has just started, but it is time to start thinking about back to school check-ups. We should expand that to back to health check-ups for everyone. Focusing on the dental checkup, it is important to remember cavities (dental decay) is a preventable and treatable dental infection. We would like to think decay is a disease of the past, but the latest public health research show it could be getting worse.

Cavities are caused by specific groups of bacteria. Therefore, they can and will spread to other teeth, if not treated. Sugar (as well as acidity) does play a major part but, without certain types of bacteria, decay is less likely. This may explain why your brother who never brushed and ate tons of candy seemed to never get cavities!

The research studies and new product developments are booming. The task of staying on top of the best recommendations for patients with decay risk can be overwhelming. Here are some great tips (new and old) for reducing your cavity risk:

  • Dental visits with radiographs (X-rays) at least once a year.
  • Brush two to three times per day for two minutes each time. Electric toothbrushes are best.
  • Floss daily, before going to bed is best.
  • Fluoridated toothpaste (low concentrations of fluoride) applied daily to neutralize acid and strengthen teeth.
  • Plain baking soda can be used as an alternative to reduce abrasion and neutralize the acid in the mouth. Or, mix some baking soda with toothpaste.
  • Chew gum with xylitol or use xylitol sweeteners as an alternative to sugar.
  • Treat dry mouth, which can be caused by medications or health conditions.
  • Check the pH level of saliva and aim for 6.8–7.2.
  • Shorten the length of time teeth are exposed to acid and/or sugar. For example, it is best not to drink pop, but if you do, finish it within 15 minutes.

Just a note about bottled water, almost all types are acidic in pH. This is to keep it fresh tasting. So although water is the best choice for drinking, take one of these two steps to make it better: add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize it or add one packet of xylitol. An even better choice is to stick to drinking tap water.

The decay process cannot be eliminated, but it can be controlled. Ask your dental professional what your caries (decay) risk level is. Also, ask them if you should use MI Paste, a milk protein based product that is leading caries management.

For more information, consultations, or to set an appointment, please contact us at Pleasant Valley Dentistry at 563-275-3567.

Photo credit: gpointstudio/iStock