How Acidity Leads to Dental Caries

How Acidity Leads to Dental Caries

Dental caries are permanently damaged areas on the hard surface of your teeth. Commonly referred to as tooth decay or cavities, dental caries are one of the most common chronic conditions among children and adults. Acidity in our mouths is a direct causation of dental caries.

How Acidity Affects our Teeth

Since the 1950’s, dental researchers have studied the correlation between pH levels in saliva and the demineralization of our tooth enamel. But it was research conducted by Kleber, Putt, and their colleagues in the 1970’s which revealed the ties between low pH levels in saliva and the demineralization of tooth enamel, which leads to tooth decay. The studies showed that when our saliva’s pH levels drop below 5.5, the saliva is considered unsaturated and in favorable conditions for the dissolving of tooth mineral. To prevent the development of dental caries, our saliva’s pH levels should stay above 5.5.

 

Common Causes of High Acidity in the Mouth

Often, sugary foods are associated with the development of plaque, which contains acid that leads to cavities. While sugary foods are certainly one of the most common causes of dental caries, other conditions such as GERD(or gastroesophageal reflux disease, which causes stomach acid to flow up into the mouth), dry mouth, and eating disorders such as bulimia can also lead to the development of tooth decay. Lack of fluoride, worn dental fillings and devices, and poor brushing habits are other conditions that commonly lead to cavities.

Preventing or Reducing Dental Caries and Mouth Acidity

You can take several preventative steps to reduce the acidity in your mouth and the development of tooth decay, including brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste along with flossing between the teeth at least once a day. Other steps include:

  • Eating tooth-healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables which increases saliva flow, while drinking water or unsweetened coffee and tea helps wash away leftover food particles.
  • Avoiding high carb foods such as chips and candy; however, if you do consume these foods always brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste after consumption.
  • Drinking tap water, which is fluoridated by most public water systems, to get plenty of fluoride exposure to your mouth.
  • Visiting your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
  • Using dentist-recommended treatments such as antibacterial rinse, xylitol chewing gum, or periodic fluoride treatments if you are especially susceptible to dental caries.

 

How Your Dentist Can Help

In addition to recommending self-care treatments such as xylitol gum and special mouth rinses, your dentist may suggest placing dental sealants over the chewing surfaces of your teeth to prevent future caries. If you have children, their dentist will likely want to place the sealants when their permanent teeth begin to come in. The CDC states that children without dental sealants are three times more likely to develop dental caries than those who have sealants. If it’s been awhile since your last dental checkup, contact our office today to schedule an appointment for you and your family.



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