What factors increase your risk for dental decay?
Avoid frequent snacks and sweetened drinks that can expose teeth to damaging acids produced by oral bacteria. Sugars and starches are the most harmful with specialty coffees, sodas, juices and breathe mints being at the top of the list. Diet sodas are not completely safe, as many are highly acidic. There are also hidden sugars or starches in the following items:
- Calcium supplements
- Chewable vitamin C
- Cough remedies
- Protein bars & drinks
- Weight loss bars & drinks
- Canned nutritional supplements
Make sure your drinking water is adequately fluoridated. Water with fluoride has proven to benefit adults as well as children. Only 65.8% of U.S. residents live in optimally fluoridated communities. Even adults with fluoridated water often drink bottled or filtered water lacking valuable fluoride. Tobacco Use
Using tobacco products challenges your immune system and increases oral problems. Tobacco products can damage gums and lead to gum recession, which contributes to the risk for root cavities. Other significant effects of tobacco use may include staining, tartar buildup, bad breath, gum disease and oral cancer.
Your past or current dental conditions can mean a greater risk for cavities.
- Gum recession – exposed roots are softer than enamel surfaces and more vulnerable to rapidly spreading decay.
- Orthodontic appliances – Traditional bracket orthodontia can be protected from decay or unsightly white spots by proper cleaning and daily use of fluoride.
- Dry mouth – Saliva is essential for cleansing the teeth and neutralizing acids produced by oral bacteria. Lack of saliva puts adults at elevated risk for rapid dental decay.
- Oral hygiene – Many adults do not brush and floss often or long enough. Bridges or partials add to the daily challenge.
- Acid mouth – Stomach juices entering the mouth from acid reflux or frequent vomiting can increase the risk for decay.
Certain medications and medical conditions can increase your risk for tooth decay. Many medications and medical conditions can lead to dry mouth. With the resulting low saliva flow, oral acids are not easily neutralized, so decay risk is increased. Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications that lead to dry mouth include those used to treat:
- High blood pressure
- Depression & anxiety
- Digestive disorders
Medical conditions that lead to mouth dryness include:
- Sjgrens syndrome
Limited abilities can result in a decline of healthy choices and proper self-care habits that in turn lead to increased risk for dental decay:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome