The risk of getting a cavity can change over the course of your life and is dependent on many factors. Some of the things that put you at risk of getting cavities are not within your control, like your genetics and the natural strength of your teeth and resistance of your immune system to the bacteria. However, there are many factors that are within your control: What you eat, how you care for your teeth at home and how often you have your teeth professionally cleaned by a dental hygienist.
Fluoride treatments have been the standard for helping patients reduce their risk of getting cavities and create a balance against the risks. In children we use fluoride treatments to balance factors like poor brushing and flossing and high carbohydrate diets. The fluoride hardens or strengthens the teeth making them more resistant to getting a cavity. Today’s fluoride treatments are applied to the teeth as a varnish, gel or foam.
For most adults home care and diet are not the challenge, changes in saliva and health issues pose the biggest risk. There are over 500 commonly prescribed medications today that have a negative impact on your saliva. Saliva is your immune system in your mouth and a primary defense. Even if your mouth doesn’t feel dry, your saliva may not be doing its’ job. Normal aging and common health issues can also alter your saliva, dramatically increasing your risk of getting cavities. Fluoride treatments are one of the best measures to prevent or reduce cavities. We typically use fluoride varnish, as it is easy to apply and highly effective at a lower cost.