I’m Brushing, So Why Do I Have a Cavity?

woman brushing teeth with electric toothbrush We are bombarded with suggestions for promoting and maintaining general health and wellness. In general, most people are aware that they should eat more vegetables and lean proteins and cut down on sugar and processed foods. Doing so supports a healthy body as well as a healthy mouth. In addition to eating well, dentists advise their patients to brush their teeth twice a day. If you’ve been doing that and you’re still experiencing the telltale pain that indicates a cavity is forming, you may wonder why. We’ll discuss that here.

How Do Cavities Form?

It’s not enough to know that “sugar causes cavities.” Our teeth are made up of minerals like calcium, fluoride, and phosphate. When we eat and drink throughout the day, these minerals escape teeth, leaving the hard outer layer of enamel somewhat soft. Fortunately, this process of demineralization is short-lived. In the 30 to 60 minutes after a snack, meal, or beverage (except water), the mouth returns to a more neutral pH. In that short time, though, the mouth is more acidic than is optimal for strong, decay-resistant enamel. Knowing that eating and drinking can instigate the process of de-mineralization, however brief, it can be beneficial to pay attention to how often you are engaging in these acts. If you sip coffee for an hour while also enjoying some cookies and, within an hour are then eating lunch, your mouth probably does not have enough time to start remineralizing your teeth. Furthermore, consuming acidic and sugary foods increases the acidity in the mouth and invites even more acidity by providing an excellent source of fuel for the bacteria that live in the vicinity. Depending on what you eat and how often you eat and drink, you could be creating the perfect environment for plaque and bacteria to thrive.

Can You Help Re-mineralize Your Teeth?

You can help remineralize your teeth! This is good news if you’re struggling with cavity prevention even though you brush twice a day. The first thing you can do to support your strongest tooth enamel is to use fluoride toothpaste. This introduces a vital mineral into the mouth directly where it is needed. You can also help restore sufficient mineral content to your teeth by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Most water has added fluoride. Next, let’s revisit that morning ritual of sipping coffee for a prolonged period of time. While this can be a hard habit to break, your teeth will benefit if you take a break of at least 30 minutes in between cups. Your teeth would be even happier if you skipped the sugary cookie. Another way to minimize the effects of the foods and beverages you consume is to sip water frequently throughout the day. Doing so not only brings fluoride into the mouth but also helps to flush the starches and sugars that are left behind after meals.

Is There a Best Time to Brush Your Teeth?

Most people have heard at least once that they should brush their teeth twice a day. Let’s get more specific. There are, in fact, better times to do this. The first is to brush right after waking up in the morning. This first two-minute session removes the plaque and debris that have accumulated overnight. It also deposits fluoride into the mouth before your first meal. If you don’t tend to brush until after you’ve had breakfast, postpone doing so for at least 30 minutes so you do not accidentally wash away some of those beneficial minerals that are flowing through your saliva. The next best time to brush is right before bed. This cleanses bacteria and plaque that have accumulated during the day. And remember, after brushing this time, you also need to floss!

Regular dental care is another vital aspect of cavity prevention. We’re here to help! Contact our Aventura, FL dental office at 305-933-2501 to schedule your exam and cleaning.

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