A patient’s guide to dental caries

One of our core values at Eau Claire Park Dental is prevention. We don’t just want to fill cavities… we want to prevent them from happening in the first place!

Cavities, also known as dental caries, are caused by a bacterial imbalance on the teeth. This imbalance occurs based on each individual’s oral environment, dietary habits, and hygiene habits. Everyone with teeth is at some risk for the infection that causes tooth decay. Large population studies have shown that even low risk individuals have a 23.6% chance of developing new cavities in the next 12 months, and that high/extreme risk patients have an 88% risk.

There are also effects on the rest of your body from cavities. Streptococcus mutans, a cavity causing bacterial species, is the most common oral bacteria found on heart valves and coronary arteries when it is found in the mouth of an individual and may be a potential risk for heart disease.

By understanding what is causing an imbalance in your mouth and by making adjustments, the bacterial imbalance can be controlled and your cavity rate can be either reduced or eliminated. A caries risk assessment along with early intervention professional products, can lower decay rates anywhere from 24% to 74%.

Primary causes of dental caries

Other risk factors for caries

  • Oral appliances (braces, retainers, nightguards, partial dentures, snore appliances etc)
  • Acid reflux
  • Diabetes
  • Bulimia

  • Head and Neck Radiation Therapy
  • Sjogrens Syndrome
  • Other drug use (methamphetamine, marijuana, opiates/heroin, cocaine, ecstasy)

Protective factors and agents

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There is abundant scientific evidence that demonstrates that fluoride strengthens the teeth, makes them less susceptible to acid attacks, and inhibits the production of acids by cavity causing bacteria. When teeth are under acid attack and fluoride is present in the mouth, it gets incorporated into the enamel making it stronger and more decay resistant.

Xylitol

Xylitol is an effective anticaries agent and also potentiates the effects of even small amounts of fluoride. However, it is much less commonly found in anticaries products due to cost. In order to provide therapeutic benefit, the dental care product should have a minimum concentration of 10% xylitol.

Antibacterial Rinse

Bacteria that have formed a biofilm (plaque) are very hard to kill. The longer a bacterial biofilm population resides, the more difficult it is to penetrate. For this reason, a broad spectrum oxidizing antibacterial agent capable of penetrating a biofilm should be considered part of a treatment strategy.

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Nanohydroxyapatite particles (non-ion) mimic the building blocks of natural enamel and are effective as an enamel repair material and anticaries agent. Hydroxyapatite and fluorapatite are the most bioavailable and stable forms for remineralization and are naturally present in high levels in saliva.

Which home care products have all of these protective factors? CariFree! This is the reason we stock these products in our practice and make it available to our patients at cost. It is hands down the most highly researched and effective product line out there for caries prevention.

Source:
Balance: A guide for managing dental caries for patients and practitioners by Kim Kutsch and Robert J. Bowers.