Tooth decay and gum disease are two of the most widespread health problems in American society. Some of us are more likely to develop these conditions then others, either due to hereditary factors, dietary choices, or side effects of medications. See your dentist as soon as possible if you suspect you fall into this category. He or she can help you to enjoy healthier teeth and gums.
Is It All in Your Genes?
Lots of people these days are installing security devices to protect their homes and automobiles from invaders. But each of us already has a built-in security network in the form of the immune system. Its job is to patrol your body 24 hours a day seven days a week, always on the alert for disease-causing microorganisms.
Your mouth is one of the key places that these harmful invaders are likely to target. Fortunately, your body has a number of defenses against cavity-causing bacteria. They include the enamel on your teeth, the saliva in your mouth, and the antibodies in your bloodstream.
Unfortunately, some of us are born with chinks in this suit of armor. These can take the form of thinning enamel, dry mouth, or insufficient antibodies to turn back an infection. For these people, it’s especially important to follow a strict dental care regimen such as brushing and flossing after every meal and avoiding sugary foods.
Eating Your Way Towards Tooth Decay
Your genes are not the only factor that can make you vulnerable to tooth decay. For example, people who eat a high-starch diet are more likely to develop dental problems. This is because simple carbohydrates are very similar to sugars on the molecular level. Both can promote the spread of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth.
If you fall into this category, then you should eat a varied diet that includes plenty of lean protein, calcium, fiber, vitamins, and complex carbohydrates. As for sweets and starchy foods, you should limit these to occasional indulgences or just eliminate them from your diet altogether. Otherwise you’re risking widespread tooth loss and other health problems.
Watch out for Those Side Effects
Modern medicine has transformed the world over the past 100 years, bringing an end to diseases that once killed millions. But many medications may have side effects that increase the risk of cavities. For example, certain antibiotics, antidepressants, and chemotherapy drugs can cause dry mouth, which increases your risk of tooth decay.
If you suspect that medical side effects are making you cavity prone, then you should talk to your healthcare provider as soon as possible. He or she may be able to switch you to a different product or alter your dosages. To counter dry mouth, you might want to try sipping water throughout the day or using sugar-free gums and mints to increase saliva production.
In this post we’ve just scratched the surface of a complex and important topic. You can learn more by discussing your concerns with your dentist during your next appointment. He or she can help you to enjoy healthier teeth and a brighter smile as well.
About the Author
Dr. Neil Flenniken earned his DDS degree from Howard University in Washington DC. He’s also a graduate of the highly regarded Institute in Las Vegas for Advanced Dental Studies and is licensed to practice dentistry in multiple states. You can reach his office online or by calling (703) 714-7374.