There are three groups of people that tend to get new cavities on a routine basis. The first group are children under 10, the second group is teenagers, and the last group is mature adults (the 60 and over crowd). My least favorite thing to do in my office is to inform someone that they have another cavity.

On a routine basis now I am asking a couple of key questions as part of my patient health history review. The purpose of the questions is to initiate a dialog as to what causes tooth decay and how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

The risk assessment for cavities includes the following: Acidic beverages, frequent snacking, inadequate salivary flow, appliances present, deep pits and fissures, hyposalivary medications, visible plaque, cavity in the last three years, visible cavitations and radiographic lesions.

Basically in order to get a cavity, something acidic sits next to the tooth structure and eats away at the tooth structure to form a hole in the tooth. What we eat and drink and how often we eat and drink it plays a large role in how much acidity is in our mouth. Anything other than water such as: soda, juice, energy drinks, vitamin waters, and carbonated beverages are acidic. Anything dry, pasty or sugary contributes to the food particles staying in the mouth for a longer period of time. The solution when it comes to tooth decay, is to limit food consumption to meal time and only drink water outside of meal times.

Braces, inadequate salivary flow, deep pits and grooves on the teeth, and lots of plaque on the teeth are all things that contribute to the acidity having an easier time to stay next to the teeth for a longer period of time. I recommend an electric tooth brush for all of my patients, as well as a daily flossing routine in order to maximize the cleanliness of the teeth.

A cavity in the last three years, visible cavitations, and radiographic lesions are important because it means that the cavities are significant enough that they must be removed and filled by the dentist. Even though a tooth has had a filling or a crown, it can still get new tooth decay in the future. Basically any part of exposed tooth structure is susceptible to tooth decay.

Wonder why the three age groups I mentioned at the beginning tend to get the most new cavities? The under age 10 group is at risk because of drinking milk right before bedtime or other non-water beverages throughout the day, eating sugary snacks and candies like gummies or fruit rolls, and not being able to effectively brush or floss their own teeth. The teenager crowd is at risk because of braces, consuming large amounts of alcohol and not brushing before bedtime, and snacking or drinking awakening beverages while studying. The mature adult is at risk because of the medications that they take that changes their body chemistry and dries out the mouth.

Kari Ann Hong, DDS
1000 Newbury Rd. #190
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320