Keeping Tooth Decay At Bay
posted: Mar. 01, 2012.
CAMBRA — Caries Management By Risk Assessment
Worried about tooth decay? Dental Decay is one of the most common and infectious diseases known to man, but it is also very preventable. Today, it is even possible to determine your risk for getting tooth decay. There are disease indicators and risk indicators that can be assessed and used to determine your chances of getting tooth decay. And more importantly, they can be used to prevent and reverse early decay.
Essentially, the difference between healthy teeth and tooth decay is a matter of balance and keeping the balance tipped toward health. That means controlling the factors that tip it toward health and away from disease. Here's a little about how it works:
Disease indicators, as the name implies, are indicators of disease. For example, the presence of white spots on the enamel of your teeth, early signs of decay, which can be detected by your dentist, your past experience of cavities, and whether you currently have tooth decay.
Today, with a “simple saliva sample,” we can test the bacteria in your mouth to determine your decay risk with a simple meter reading.
There are also certain risk factors for tooth decay that you can change by modifying what you do. The ways in which you can help yourself include:
- Reduce the amount of bacterial plaque (biofilm) build-up on your teeth. If plaque is actually visible on your teeth with the naked eye, it means there is a large amount that needs to be removed professionally. High levels of bacteria leave teeth more susceptible to attack from acid-producing bacteria that cause decay.
- Stop snacking on foods containing sugar between meals. Reducing the number of times your teeth are exposed to sugary snacks, and those that contain high amounts of refined carbohydrates, will help lower your risk of tooth decay. Stop feeding the bacteria sugar, which is turned into acid.
- Use fluoride toothpaste. This toothpaste will help strengthen your teeth, making them more resistant to acid attack. Deep grooves in the biting surfaces of your teeth, which we call pits and fissures, increase the likelihood of tooth decay making it impossible to reach with just a toothbrush. However, sealing these areas with “sealants” will prevent these areas from decaying.
- Always ask your doctors about the potential side effects of all medications. Certain drugs reduce the production of saliva and lead to dry mouth, which is one of the main contributors to tooth decay. Saliva has important buffering properties, neutralizing acids in the mouth, helping to reduce risk of decay.
- If you have an eating disorder, get professional help. People suffering from both bulimia and anorexia frequently vomit after meals, which creates a highly acidic condition in the mouth. Getting control over these conditions can help you also gain control over your risk for tooth decay.
We can further help assess your risk for tooth decay by using low dosage x-rays, microscopes, innovative laser technology, and other modern means. Call our office today to schedule a screening. To learn more about the diagnosis and prognosis of tooth decay, read the exclusive Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”