We’ve all been there. You’re sitting at the dentist’s office following an exam and you hear the dreaded words: you have a dental cavity. Sure, it’s been a while since your last dental exam. And maybe you haven’t been overly devoted to flossing. But a cavity?!
You’re not alone. Most people know enough about dental cavities to understand how to prevent them and how they develop. We all know that good at-home oral hygiene in addition to regular visits to the dentist are the best ways to keep dental cavities at bay. But, even if you practice perfect at-home oral hygiene, there are some risk factors that can make you more vulnerable to developing cavities.
Today we’re exploring common risk factors for developing dental cavities and what you need to know to protect your teeth for years to come.
Common Risk Factors For Developing Dental Cavities
Let’s be clear: everyone who has teeth is at risk of getting a dental cavity. But some people run a higher risk for dental decay than others. If you’re included in the following categories, having a good oral hygiene routine may not be enough to prevent dental cavities. Talk to your dentist about the best way to prevent dental decay and protect your smile.
Our genes play a huge role in our overall health. But did you know that genetics also impact your dental health? Some people are more likely to have a higher number of harmful bacteria in their mouths, which will put them at a higher risk of developing cavities and tooth decay. Expensive genetic testing isn’t always needed to determine your risk. If your parents or siblings were more prone to dental decay, chances are that your genes are predisposed to dental issues.
Using tobacco such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco are bad for your physical health as well as your dental health. The use of these products will cause teeth to become yellowed and discolored and will break down the tooth enamel, making you more vulnerable to dental cavities and tooth decay. And don’t believe the lie that vaping or using e-cigarettes is much better for your dental health. The nicotine in vaping products can damage your teeth, too.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Drugs such as methamphetamine or other hard drugs are known for causing tooth rot and other dangerous physical problems. Additionally, the acidic nature of alcohol will eat away at tooth enamel and can cause dry mouth. Limit your drug and alcohol use to protect your overall health as well as your dental health.
Disordered eating can damage the teeth in different ways. For example, bulimia damages the tooth enamel by constantly exposing the teeth to harmful stomach acid during purging. Anorexia damages the teeth and body by depriving you of nutrients that help keep the body and teeth strong. The lack of calcium and phosphorus can be especially damaging to the teeth. If you struggle with disordered eating, please reach out to your primary care physician right away.
Keeping up with regular oral hygiene –– including brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice per day –– and regularly visiting your dentist for cleanings and exams is the best way to prevent dental decay regardless of your risk factors. Prevention is key when it comes to dental decay. Allowing a dental cavity to go untreated could lead to an infection, which may require root canal therapy or even the loss of the tooth.
Here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado, our team of specialists do our very best to help our patients keep their natural teeth and restore their smiles. We specialize in making endodontic treatments as comfortable as possible. To learn how we can help relieve your pain, contact us today to schedule an evaluation.