“I haven’t had a cavity in years! Why now?”
Or “I’ve never had a cavity before. Are you sure?”
What causes us to get new cavities, even when we’ve never had a cavity before in our entire life or if it’s been years since our last filling? As the family dentist at Blue Sky Family Dentistry who sees these changes in people of all ages, I know the answer is multi-factorial. There’s never a single cause but often a constellation of issues that come together.
First and most importantly, your diet may have changed somehow. This is fundamental, and I can’t overstate how critical it is to explore your diet and how it might be contributing to your cavity risk. In a nutshell, cavities are caused this way: we eat carbohydrates, bacteria metabolize those carbs into acids, and those acids end up on the teeth causing demineralization which undermines the tooth structure and causes decay.
So what are some life situations that lead to dietary change and by extension higher cavity risk? Graduate school, new parents (especially the mothers) or parents with newborns, working long hours (10-12+ hours a day), moving, loss of a loved one, and experiencing serious medical problems in the past few years are just a few examples. What’s a commonality here? While this isn’t universal, these life circumstances can cause paradigm shifts in how we approach our daily routines, our time management, and by extension how we eat. We may still be eating the same types of foods, but we end up eating food that is easier to get. Easier foods are more processed foods which have carbohydrates that bacteria can easily convert to acids. We’re also eating those foods more often throughout the day. This last part is key. Maybe it’s because we’re up late studying, meeting a deadline, or trying help get the newborn back to sleep, but these big life disruptions take a lot of energy and carbohydrates are always one of the easiest things to grab.
All of that said, take a step back and take a look at what you’re eating and how frequently you’re eating it. From a dental perspective try to limit carbohydrates to your 3 primary meals and don’t allow them between meals. Find other snacks like yogurt, cheeses, and mixed nuts that are better for your teeth. If you can’t find alternatives, be sure to rinse with water afterward or brush with fluoride toothpaste.
If you have a question for Dr. Corpron send us an e-mail or call the office for a consultation.