If you are someone who has become used to leaving the dentist's office with a smile on your face due to your great check-ups, then a sudden surge in cavities may have left you scratching your head trying to figure out what is going on with your oral health. The culprit to your sudden downward spiral could be a small change in your habits or a large problem with your health. Here are three common culprits for sudden increases in cavities and what to do about each of them.
1. Diabetes or Pre-diabetes
Development of Type 2 diabetes can cause massive changes in your oral health as well as your overall health. Pre-diabetes is the precursor to diabetes, and it can also impact your oral health. Diabetes makes it difficult for your body to fight many types of bacteria, and that includes the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. Couple this fact with the extra presence of glucose in the bloodstream of diabetics, and you have a recipe for cavities.
If you suspect this may be a cause of your new cavities, then it is important to visit a doctor who can give you a series of blood-sugar tests to see if you truly have or are developing diabetes. He or she will instruct you on how to manage the condition to lessen its impact on your overall health.
If you had a recent check-up with your general physician and know you are not developing diabetes, then don't let this cause of cavities worry you, because another culprit is likely to blame.
2. Hidden Sugars in New Healthy Diet Foods
With the arrival of beach season, you may have begun eating new "health" foods and supplements in an attempt to get your body beach-ready quickly. Some of these health foods have hidden sugars you are not aware of, so you may not realize you need to brush after eating or drinking them.
Two common health or diet foods that have more sugar than you may realize are diet shakes or smoothies and diet bars. While including some sugar in your diet is fine, just watch out for these ingredient names in your health foods that are actually sugar and signal that you should brush after eating them:
- Evaporated Cane Juice. This is really just another name for table sugar.
- Sucrose. This is a sugar derived from fruit.
- Organic Brown Rice Syrup. Again, this is just sugar.
- Agave. This is another natural source of sugar.
Remember to check labels of "health foods" you are eating for these terms. Although they don't signal that you should stop eating the foods, just realize that if a food contains one of these ingredients, you should brush after eating or drinking it, just like you would after eating a candy bar or drinking a glass of soda.
3. New Medication Side Effects
If you recently began taking a new medication to manage any type of health condition, then you may be unaware of the fact that it has side effects that affect your dental health. While medications won't directly cause tooth decay, they can cause dry mouth, which can then lead to a surge of cavities in a once very healthy mouth.
Medications that cause dry mouth include antidepressants, antihistamines, diuretics, and many others. The easiest way to find out if your medication can cause dry mouth is to look at the information that comes with it from the pharmacy or perform a web search. If it does, then that can give you insight into your sudden change in oral health.
If the medication is necessary for your health, then you don't want to stop taking it. You can ask your doctor if there is a similar medication you can take that does not have dry mouth as a side effect, but if there is not, then that does not necessarily mean you are doomed to a life of cavities.
To combat dry mouth from the medication, increase your water intake, look into lubricating mouth rinses and oral sprays, and stop using any drying mouthwashes that contain alcohol. Also, be extra vigilant to avoid eating too many carbohydrates without brushing right after, because a dry mouth may create a more welcome breeding ground for bacteria, but it cannot cause cavities alone. It just makes good eating and dental habits more important than ever.
If you have suddenly begun developing frequent cavities, then consider whether one of these three culprits may be to blame. You can make the changes in your life that you need to and speak to your dentist about any extra treatments he or she recommends to help you get your oral-health back.
Click here for more information on oral health and dental services in your area.