Monday, November 16, 2009

Why am I getting cavities now when I didn't before?

I take very good care of my teeth. I normally brush them 3 times daily and floss every day. When I was younger (I'm 21 now), I never flossed and sometimes only brushed in the morning. I never had cavities when I took worse care of my teeth and now I have at least one every time I go to the dentist (have for the past couple of years).

I have recently noticed that I wake up with a very dry mouth most mornings - not sure why, but that could be related to allergy medications. Could this be the cause of my cavities? If so, do you have any suggestions for not getting dry-mouth at night?

Why am I getting cavities now when I didn't before?
First, dry mouth is very common at night, your saliva flow will slow dramatically and this may be even more so with your allergy medications. You can get cavities at any time during your lifetime, but I am going to guess it is dietary related. I have seen this happen with some of my patients. If you are eating candies, even small ones like altoids or cough drops your teeth are being exposed to acids that are produced by your mouth breaking down these sugars. Usually the acids hang around for about 20 minutes breaking down the tooth enamel causing decay. If not candy it could be the same acid cycle when sipping a drink at your desk, many people will sip a drink all day which exposes you to acids all day (even sugar free drinks have acid in them). Cavities can also be caused by acid reflux. It may also be that you had the beginnings of small cavities before, but they were not big enough to be fixed before and now they are. I would recommend an over the counter fluoride rinse (ACT or Fluoriguard) nightly as your home care routine sounds great! Good luck!

JAMRDH - a dental hygienist
Reply:Some simple reasons for dry mouth include:

Stuffy nose

Mouth breathing

Inadequate fluid intake

Dehydration - see causes of dehydration



Certain nutritional deficiencies may cause dry mouth

A lack of vitamin A may cause dry mouth

riboflavin deficiency

Salivary gland disorder

Excessive urination- may cause dehydration

Sjogrens syndrome

Diabetes, Sarcoidosis, Amyloidosis

Radiation exposure

Certain medication

Amphetamine intoxication


yes lack of salivation can cause increase in cavity development as saliva has cleansing action and provides immunity through enzymes and therefore increased rate of cavity development

Although there is no single way to treat dry mouth, there are a number of steps that can be followed to keep the teeth in good health and relieve the sense of dryness

Treatment for dry mouth depends on what is causing the problem. Generally, treatment of a dry mouth focuses on three areas:

Managing underlying medical conditions causing the dry mouth

Preventing tooth decay

Increasing the flow of saliva, if possible

To preserve the teeth:

Brush your teeth at least once a day

Use dental floss at least twice a day

Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Ask your dentist about using a topical fluoride

Avoid sticky, sugary foods or brush immediately after eating them

See your dentist at least three times a year for cleanings and early treatment of cavities

Ask your dentist if you should use a remineralizing solution or prescription-strength fluoride or artificial saliva .

To relieve dryness and preserve the soft tissues:

Take frequent sips of water or drinks without sugar. Pause often while speaking to sip some liquid. Avoid coffee, tea and soft drinks

Drink frequently while eating. This will make chewing and swallowing easier and may increase the taste of foods

Keep a glass of water by your bed for dryness during the night or upon awakening

Chew sugarless gum - the chewing may produce more saliva

Eat sugarless mints or hard sugarless candy but let them dissolve in your mouth. Cinnamon and mint are often most effective

Avoid tobacco and alcohol

Avoid spicy, salty and highly acidic foods that may irritate the mouth

Ask your dentist about using artificial salivas to help lubricate the mouth

Use a humidifier, particularly at night.

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