Dental Decay and What Causes It

Q:  What factors increase your risk for dental decay?

ANSWERED by DR. GRAYSON SELLERS

Dr. Grayson Sellers

Dr. Grayson Sellers

Before answering your question, I like to remind all my patients that you don’t have to be a kid to get cavities.  In fact, the average adult develops about 1 cavity per year. Factors that increase your risk for dental decay are:

1-Dietary:  Better eating habits means better checkups. Avoid frequent snacks & sweetened drinks that expose teeth to damaging acids produced by oral bacteria.  Note:  sugars & starches are most harmful.  Popular choices that contain sugar include: specialty coffees, sodas and juices, & breath mints.  Beware of “hidden” sugars and starches found in many “health” items such as Calcium Supplements & Vitamin C Chewables, Antacids, Cough Remedies, Protein Bars/Drinks, Weight Loss Bars/Drinks,  & Canned Nutritional Supplements.

2-Tobacco Use: Using tobacco products, especially sweet chewing tobacco, challenges your immune system & increases oral problems.  Also, tobacco products can damage gums & teeth & lead to gum recession.  Another significant effect of tobacco products is that it may lead to oral cancer.

3-Dental Factors:  Your past or current dental conditions can mean a greater risk for cavities.  Here are some examples:  Gum Recession, Orthodontic Appliance, Dry Mouth, (Saliva is essential for cleansing the teeth & neutralizing acids produced by oral bacteria) Oral Hygiene, & Acidic Mouth (frequent vomiting).

4-Medical Factors:  Certain medications & conditions can increase your risk of tooth decay.  Prescription & over-the-counter meds that lead to dry mouth include those used to treat: High blood pressure, Allergies, Depression/Anxiety, Cancer, & Digestive disorders.

Patients of all ages benefit from fluoride treatments.  Adults are especially prone to rapidly developing root cavities.  Professionally applied fluoride treatments are recommended for both adults & children & can reduce cavities by 30%.  Even as an adult, there are some things you never outgrow… like cavities.

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