Prevention: Cavities, Oral Cancer, Gum Disease ...
You’ve likely heard the expression, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Have you thought recently about what that really means? There is so much more to why people get cavities than just brushing and flossing properly. The current American diet, including processed foods and most bottled water, is very detrimental to the health of our bodies and teeth. We often get questions like, "I brush and floss daily, why am I still getting cavities?" The answer is complicated. Here are some steps that you can take today to reduce your risk of getting cavities:
-Evaluate your Diet - Any foods or drinks that contain sugar (carbohydrates) can break down your teeth and lead to cavities. Acidic foods and drinks (coffee/tea/wine) can also cause cavities. Try to avoid these as much as possible.
-Meal Timing - If you're going to eat/drink sugary or acidic food or drink, make sure to eat during short periods of time. Spacing meals out and limiting snacking allows the minerals in your saliva to rebuild your teeth. For example, it is much better to drink a cup of coffee during your breakfast, than to slowly sip on it throughout the morning.
-Fluoride Toothpaste - Make sure that the toothpaste you are using contains fluoride!. Fluoride actually helps the tooth to become more resistant to sugar and acids.
-Dry Mouth - Since your saliva is the biggest protective factor for cavities, be aware of the symptoms of dry mouth. Many medications can cause it, as well as breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. If you wake up with a dry mouth, you are likely not breathing through your nose while you sleep. This can lead to poorer sleep quality, less oxygen in the blood while you sleep, compromised growth of the jaws, and cavities. If you cannot breathe through your nose, consider seeking out an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor to evaluate your airway.
A Holistic Approach to Dental Health
Preventive care is the backbone of our practice at Apollonia Dental. Your entire body is intricately connected and works together to function as a whole. When one piece isn’t working right, the rest of your body is affected. For years, people treated dental care as an afterthought to healthcare. Today, research has shown the strong connection between your dental health and your overall health. For example, studies have now linked gum disease to such dangerous medical conditions as heart attacks, diabetes, strokes, pancreatic cancer, and compromised pregnancies. Cavities can still occur due to your genetic makeup even if you brush and floss regularly and reduce your sugar intake.
Why a Cleaning Visit at Apollonia Dental?
If you’re brushing and flossing regularly do you really need to have professional cleanings every six months? Absolutely. It only takes an average of three months for the harmful bacteria in your mouth to repopulate. The 6-month interval is based on when insurance pays; some people need to have their teeth cleaned more often, some less. No matter how well you brush, you are likely to miss a little bit of plaque here and there, especially in the hard-to-reach areas like between your teeth and just below the gumline. If your teeth are crooked or overlapping, this is even more likely. We also like to take the time at your cleanings to review your home habits and discuss your brushing and flossing technique. Many people are not using proper technique, and simple tweaks can make your routine much more effective. Examinations provide an opportunity to check your teeth and gums and look for any problems that could be developing. We use a number of tools to help us examine you properly which allows us to see underneath your gums, beneath your enamel, and between your teeth.
We’ll examine your teeth for any cavities that might be developing, look for signs of gum disease, and check your soft tissues for any unusual marks that could indicate the beginning of oral cancer. In 2009, 458 people in Connecticut were diagnosed with oral cancer; 40,250 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. 75 of the 458 people diagnosed in Connecticut died from oral cancer. Patients with cancer are sometimes concerned about dental x-rays. Here is a link from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute addressing this. If we do find a problem, we’ll sit down and talk to you about it and give you our treatment recommendations. There are now tests and therapies for high cavity-risk patients including saliva tests and medications that go beyond what regular fluoride does. We will discuss your options with you. The final decision is always in your hands. Catching problems when they are small allows us to treat the condition early while simple and conservative treatments are still a possibility. By the time the condition has developed to the point where you feel pain, more complex and involved therapies may be needed.
Schedule your appointment with us today – even if it’s been a while since your last cleaning. If you are one of the people who is still having trouble with cavities and gum disease after modifying your diet, brushing and flossing as directed, we have cutting edge solutions for you. You simply have to make the decision to do it. Fill out this Cavity Risk Assessment Form and call us at 860-269-0278 so we can review your particular situation and offer solutions. Or you can fill out the online form to the right and we will call you to schedule your appointment. We'll get you caught up!