Avoid The Pain Of A Cavity

May 23, 2011

Cavity Prevention

Cleaning teeth helps prevent cavities.

Many people think that they have bad teeth (suffering lots of cavities) when in reality their teeth are fine; it’s their health and nutrition causing the problem of “bad teeth”.

Your teeth are made of mineral. Food, which is usually more acidic than the mouth, causes demineralization. Fortunately, remineralization is also constantly occurring. When demineralization happens faster, cavities begin to form.

How A Cavity Forms

You may have heard that eating too many sweets will give you a cavity, this isn’t strictly true, although steadily consuming sugar can contribute to cavity formation. How? It feeds bacteria in the mouth that turn it into acid, increasing the acidity of the mouth and the demineralization of teeth.

The bacteria found in the mouth are usually harmless, otherwise good bacteria, such as lactobacillus, a bacteria that breaks the milk sugar lactose into lactic acid. It plays a beneficial role in the gut and vagina, but can cause problems in the mouth.

As acid wears the tooth away, a cavity can begin either as a small hole or fissure in the tooth, or as a chalky white, softer patch (this is the breakdown of the minerals). As it progresses the teeth turn brown, and eventually become a cavity. Sometimes teeth can be stained brown, in which case the tooth may be shinier.

Symptoms of a cavity include pain, bad/changed tastes, and bad breath. If left untreated, bacteria causing the cavity can spread, and in the worst case cause death.

Protect Your Teeth, Naturally

Saliva is made up of mucus and enymes, which can help protect teeth. Mucus coats teeth, helping teeth resist acid. Enzymes are the first step in food digestion.

An often forgotten factor in cavity formation is when there is not enough saliva produced, hindering the natural breakdown and removal of food, not countering the acid enough, nor providing teeth their protective coating. Many medicines hinder the production of saliva (“dry mouth”), as can diabetes.

To increase saliva production, drink more water and support your health with natural supplements. There are over 600 saliva glands in your mouth (four major ones) which are triggered by nerves from the autonomic nervous system. Supporting your overall health with good nutrition helps your body’s systems do their job.

It also helps to reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth with good natural hygiene and natural antibacterials. The more you think you have “bad teeth”, the more you should floss, brush, and rinse with an antimicrobial agent such as mouthwash. Snacking and sugar are ok as long as you clean your mouth afterward.

Iodine is thought to be beneficial to the remineralization of teeth. Mineral supplements including calcium can also help.

It is thought that fluoride coats teeth to protect against cavities, but some long term studies have shown that long term ingestion of fluoride (e.g. from tap water) may have a negative effect. Fluoride can be found in most toothpastes and as a rinse at the dentist’s office for those who want it.

Avoid tobacco. Not only can tobacco contribute to cavity formation, it reduces saliva production.

Once a cavity is formed, it generally cannot be remineralized. If you think you have cavities, see a doctor immediately!

What foods seem to trigger cavities? Share your stories in the comments!

{ 1 comment }

Harvey Morgan May 31, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I’ve only had one cavity and that was when I was younger. My sister, however, seems to get cavities, no matter what she eats. This always seemed strange to me because we both brushed our teeth and flossed — we shared a bathroom — but she always complains about having a dry mouth. Now it makes sense!

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