With a new year approaching, you may be thinking about resolutions to make to form better habits, including working out more, eating healthier, self-reflecting, and maybe improving caring for your teeth a little better. One of the most common dental issues patients come in with are cavities, and we frequently get asked the question, “Why do I get cavities if I’m brushing my teeth twice a day and flossing?” While there’s no standard answer because it’s different for everyone, I like to go over some general information about cavity formation that can help address this concern.
Teeth are made up of minerals. When you eat or drink starchy or sugary foods, the bacteria in the plaque in your teeth start to produce acid, eating away at your tooth enamel (the protective layer of your teeth), leaving you with tooth decay. If your mouth’s pH drops and becomes more acidic, your teeth begin to lose their natural minerals.
After eating or drinking, it takes around an hour for your mouth’s pH to return to normal. But if you consume something sugary or starchy without giving your teeth time to recover, the acid continues to form on your teeth from plaque. While soda isn’t great for your teeth, it’s better to drink a can of soda in 10 minutes, rather than over the course of a couple of hours, because your teeth are only being exposed to the acid for 10 minutes, instead of over and over again for 120 minutes. Getting your teeth to start remineralizing is better sooner rather than later.
To get your teeth to start the remineralizing process faster, saliva is your friend! Saliva can help flush out harmful particles, acting as a buffer between them and your teeth. Our saliva has the same minerals that are found in our teeth and can help give phosphate and calcium back to your teeth. But your saliva can’t be enough - you’ll need to incorporate fluoride through toothpaste or drinking tap water with fluoride in it to help protect your teeth.
We’ll always tell you to brush your teeth at least twice a day because it’s essential for good oral hygiene. Timing your tooth brushing can aid in good dental health because you’re combating plaque-causing bacteria when your teeth are most susceptible. As you sleep, the bacteria in your mouth multiples, so brushing your teeth as soon as you wake up can embed fluoride into your mouth before you even start eating or drinking, helping to protect your teeth immediately.
You should also brush at least 30 minutes after eating a meal. If you brush immediately, you could be removing any helpful minerals that are in your saliva. Chewing sugarless gum after you eat can help keep the minerals in your mouth and increase your saliva flow while also not continuing to drop your mouth’s pH.
You should also always brush right before bed, so you’re limiting any acid exposure while you sleep.
Dr. Julie Liberman DDS of Great Neck Dental Care NY proudly serves patients of all ages in the Great Neck area, spanning New Hyde Park, Floral Park, Douglaston, Jericho, Roslyn, etc. Book your checkup today to see how you can prevent cavities and maintain good dental health.
Never been happier with a dentist before! The professionalism, individual care, sparkling clean office, and the range of services are amazing. Highly recommended!