“I Brush My Teeth Twice a Day… Why Do I Still Get Cavities?”
Over the course of this pandemic, I think we’ve all been trying to form a few better habits while at home. Whether that be eating healthier, working out more, self-reflecting or practicing better dental hygiene. However it seems that some people are still getting cavities even though they are brushing twice a day.
Trying to answer that question is difficult because the reasoning is different for everyone. However there are general principles about how cavities form that shed light with this issue:
- How do cavities form?
- How can you help your teeth “re-mineralize”?
- When is the best time of day to brush your teeth?
How Do Cavities Form?
Our teeth are made up of minerals. Whenever you eat or drink sugary or starchy foods, bacteria in the plaque on your teeth begin to produce acid. This acid then eats away at your teeth’s enamel, which is the protective layer of your teeth. When your mouth drops below a critical pH and becomes more acidic, your teeth begin to lose those natural minerals.
It takes about 30-60 minutes after eating or drinking for the pH in your mouth to return to normal. However, if you don’t give your mouth time to recover after eating or drinking before consuming something else that is sugary or high in starch, the process then begins all over again and acid continues to form.
For example, drinking a soda in 10 minutes is better for your teeth then sipping it over the course of an hour because your mouth is then only exposed to this acidic drink for 10 minutes rather than continually for a whole hour. The sooner your teeth can start the re-mineralizing process, the better.
How Can You Help Your Teeth Re-mineralize?
Saliva is a big help in keeping your teeth protected. It acts as a natural buffer from harmful particles and helps clear them out. The same minerals found in your teeth are also in your saliva, so after you eat, saliva helps add calcium and phosphate back to your teeth.
However, sometimes that isn’t enough, which is where fluoride comes in. By using toothpaste with fluoride in it or drinking tap water with fluoride, it embeds the fluoride in your saliva and helps protect your teeth. As a result, the next time your teeth are recovering from sugar and acid in the drink or food you ate, your teeth can use those fluoride minerals embedded in your saliva to create a stronger and more decay-resistant enamel.
When is the Best Time to Brush Your Teeth?
I hope everyone knows that brushing your teeth twice a day is so important. But exactly when is the right time during the day to brush?
While you’re sleeping, plaque-causing bacteria are multiplying in your mouth. Brushing your teeth first thing in the morning can be beneficial in removing that plaque and bacteria build up from the night before. Brushing your teeth in the morning also helps because it introduces fluoride into your mouth before you eat your first meal of the day. Removing the bacteria that multiplied over night helps lessen the number of particles that turn to acid from your breakfast.
If you are one of those people who like to brush after every meal, be sure to wait at least 30 minutes before doing so. If you brush immediately after eating a meal, you may be removing those helpful minerals in your saliva that we talked about above. If you need a rinse after eating, drinking water, or eating sugarless gum can help increase your saliva flow so that it can do its job in keeping your teeth healthy.
Lastly, making sure you brush before going to bed at night can limit any prolonged acid exposure while you’re sleeping. In general, its important to brush twice a day to help remove harmful bacteria and particles in your mouth. However, you can elevate your oral routine by brushing first thing in the morning right after you wake up, and last thing before you go to bed at night.
If you have any questions or concerns about your oral health, give us a call at (610) 489-5555 to schedule an appointment.