May 20, 2024
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Ask the Dentist: Why Still So Many Cavities?

Not a day goes by in my office where a patient in my chair doesn’t say, “Why am I still getting cavities? I brush my teeth, and I don’t each a lot of candy!” Agreed, proper tooth brushing (flossing too) and cutting back on sweets will help prevent tooth decay and prolong the health of your teeth. There are many others factors that are the causes of your mouth’s demise.

But why in 2015 with fluoride in our toothpaste and water, and sophisticated oral hygiene products are children and adults of all ages still coming in with so many cavities? There are many causes. In future columns I will discuss genetics, various foods, as well as environmental influences that affect our oral health. However, I will focus this article on what I call the “silent killer:” acid.

It has come to amaze me that after practicing all these years, and treating many different age groups and backgrounds tooth decay is still on the rise. After engaging in thousands of conversations with my patients, I come to realize that no one ever thinks of the acid in their diet. As I mentioned earlier, we are all raised and programmed to understand that candy causes cavities. Yes, this is true, however life without candy doesn’t redeem you. It took me years of examinations, interfamily comparisons, and various diet analyses to realize that there is something many are consuming in their daily diet, and they don’t even realize it’s damaging effect.

How does the patient who drinks lots of healthy orange juice get cavities? Or the one who loves to nurse a cup of “healthy anti-oxidant” tea or coffee all day? How about a Diet Coke? (No sugar?) The list goes on… The common ingredient, in various forms, in the above examples are all acidic. Juice: citric acid, Tea: tanic acid, and dark soda: phosphoric acid. Acid erodes the enamel off your teeth. We can go back to the grade school science experiment when you leave a penny in a cup of soda for a few days, it will slowly disintegrate. If it can take the paint off your car, imagine what it does to your teeth and your stomach lining (I’ll save that one for the GI Docs).

So how do we navigate this problem in a world where we love to eat, drink and enjoy various foods and beverages? I love a good cup of joe as much as the next, and to relax at night with a warm cup of tea.

Are you ready? Here’s the advice that will help you keep your teeth the rest of your life (if you do everything else right). WATER! Could it be that simple? Yes.

Let me go on a tangent for a moment, and talk about saliva. One of the main functions of saliva is to bathe are teeth and help wash things away. If we don’t rinse, Whatever we just ate or drank, is pooling in our mouths throughout the day. Our body will eventually “car wash” itself. It’s our built-in defense mechanism, but it will take hours (those of you who are my patients have heard this lecture before). So, all day we are bathing our teeth in the last thing that was in our mouths. Got that! So why wait, chase it with water! You can carwash immediately. It’s that easy. Of course everything in moderation. Even healthy foods in our diet can have damaging effects.

The next time you enjoy your coffee, follow it with water, soda, then water, candy (yes, I said the “c” word), then water. Are you getting it? So as you are leaving the restaurant after that great meal of various delicacies, drink that glass of water.

In conclusion, next time you are at the dentist, and he says that you have cavities, again, don’t get mad, just drink more WATER!

Look forward to next month’s issue of “Ask the Dentist”. Please send your questions to [email protected]. Dr. Brian Kalb practices Dentistry in New Rochelle and Long Island. He can be reached at 914-262-1399 or www.drbriankalb.com.

By Dr. Brian M. Kalb

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