Your oral health depends a lot on what you eat and how well you keep up with oral hygiene. But did you know that your body also has quite a variety of natural defenses against cavities? Here are some of the ways your mouth works on a daily basis to fight against cavities forming in your teeth.
1. Producing Saliva
You’ve probably heard about saliva’s role in food digestion. It contains enzymes to help start to break down food even before you swallow. But did you know that saliva is also one of the biggest factors in protecting your teeth from cavities and repairing the daily wear and tear they experience?
For example, your saliva is full of minerals, which are carried to your tooth surfaces to help repair any softened enamel that occurs after you eat acidic, sugary, or high-carb foods. The bad bacteria in your mouth produce acids that leach the minerals out of your teeth. This process can lead to decay unless your saliva manages to reverse it by adding minerals back.
So how can you help? The first step is to drink lots of water on a daily basis so your body has plenty of moisture for producing saliva. The next step is to chew gum after meals, which helps your mouth release more saliva and helps swish the saliva all around your mouth.
2. Using Dentinal Fluid
You may have heard that your teeth have tiny dentinal tubules, which become exposed and cause sensitivity when your enamel wears thin. But did you know that these tubules actually have a great cavity-fighting function? They carry needed dentinal fluid containing substances such as nutrients to each tooth’s dentin layer.
However, this function only works properly if your diet is in good shape. That’s because a high-sugar diet can reduce the amount of parotid hormone produced and thus cause the fluid to stop flowing outwards. Then, bacteria and contaminants can invade the tubules, and the fluid with nutrients isn’t carried outward to all parts of the tooth.
So one of the best ways you can help out with this cavity-fighting function is to simply reduce the sugar and empty carbs in your diet. You may also need to work on stress management and make sure you’re getting enough exercise.
3. Fostering Beneficial Microbes
Your mouth is such a great place for bacteria to grow that you’ll never get rid of all the bacteria. Instead, your mouth makes use of beneficial bacteria to help reduce the effects of the bad ones. The more beneficial bacteria are living in your mouth, the fewer acid-producing bacteria will be able to find homes there.
You can help your mouth with this by using a mouthwash that only discourages the bad bacteria rather than carpet-bombing all the microbes in your mouth. For example, you can use an alkaline mouthwash, since bad bacteria love to grow in an acidic environment, and good bacteria tend to prefer a less acidic environment.
And if you want to take it a step further, you can work on getting more probiotic foods (foods that contain beneficial microbes) into your diet. Probiotic foods are foods such as kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut that have live active cultures in them.
If you don’t want to eat more of these types of foods (or can’t for medical reasons), you may consider looking into an oral probiotic supplement formulated to deliver beneficial bacteria to your mouth. Beneficial bacteria can help with a variety of issues, including gum disease and bad breath, and may even kill some of the bad bacteria.
These are just three methodologies that can help naturally fight against cavity formation. Aiding your body in keeping up these three natural processes, while simultaneously keeping up with your great oral hygiene, could lessen your chances of contracting tooth decay.
Whether you’re in need of fillings or looking for more advanced restorative work, call the office of Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA today to schedule an appointment.