Have you ever wondered why you or your family members develop cavities? Our North Vernon, IN, dentist, Dr. Scott Terry, explains several things that may increase your tooth decay risk.
Cavity risk factors
Your tooth enamel is incredibly strong, but it's no match for bacteria and acids that can cause tooth cavities. You may be more likely to develop a cavity if you:
- Have Poor Oral Hygiene: Daily brushing and flossing removes plaque, a bacterial film that causes cavities. Getting rid of plaque also lowers your gum disease risk. When plaque stays on your teeth, it turns into tartar, a hard substance that is responsible for gum disease. Brushing in the morning and evening and flossing once a day will help you avoid tooth decay.
- Don't Have a Healthy Diet: Fruits and vegetables are better for your teeth than sugary foods or beverages and foods loaded with carbohydrates. If your diet consists of ample amounts of cakes, cookies, candy, pretzels and potato chips, your cavity risk will increase.
- Eat or Drink Acidic Foods and Beverages: Acids in foods and drinks can damage your tooth enamel and cause decay. Common sources of acids include soft drinks, lemonade, tomatoes and tomato-based foods, citrus fruits, pickles and wine. If you do enjoy these foods and beverages, eat or drink them as quickly as possible to minimize damage to your teeth. Sipping on a cola for a few hours extends the amount of time that your teeth are exposed to the acids.
- Have Dry Mouth: Saliva helps remove plaque from your teeth. When your mouth is too dry, plaque flourishes. In addition to drinking water frequently, you can keep your mouth moist by chewing sugar-free gum.
- Experience Heartburn Frequently: If you suffer from frequent heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), acids from your stomach can damage your tooth enamel, making cavities more likely.
- Have Deep Pits and Grooves in Teeth: Deep pits and grooves in your back teeth make it difficult to remove plaque from these teeth. Sealants, applied in just a few minutes in our North Vernon office, will protect your teeth.
- Have Worn Dental Work: Plaque and bacteria can collect on or around worn or cracked fillings, crowns or bridges, increasing your cavity risk.
Regular dental visits can help you identify your tooth decay risks. If it's time for your next exam, you think you may have a cavity, call North Vernon, IN, dentist, Dr. Terry, at (812) 346-4500 to schedule an appointment.