The Ugly Truth Most Dentists Won’t Tell You
So you’ve been told you have “soft teeth”? This implies that you are genetically predisposed to cavities because of how your teeth formed. It’s a little known fact that the odds of this are quite low. There are a few heritable clinical conditions where teeth are actually soft or defective, such as amelogenesis imperfecta (AI), dentinogenesis imperfecta (DI), or dentin dysplasia (DD) to name a few. In fact, the odds of having any of these clinical conditions ranges anywhere from one in 100,000 to one in 718 individuals1!
But then if you actually don’t have soft teeth, then what the heck is going on? When it comes to cavities there are 4 contributing factors which are:
- Cavity-causing bacteria
- Oral hygiene
Biologists have been able to pin point a few groups of bacteria that are known to cause cavities. These bacteria are able to colonize the teeth and feed on the sugars in the mouth. Virtually everyone has bacteria that can cause cavities. The amounts of these harmful bacteria can fluctuate based on our habits and our ability to keep our teeth clean.
Sugar is the main food source for cavity-causing bacteria. The constant supply of high carbohydrate foods (which break down into sugars) continues to supply bacteria with nutrition to thrive in the mouth.
Routine brushing and flossing is important for removing the remnants of food stuck in the teeth and on the tongue. When brushing and flossing are skipped or done improperly, the remaining food residue continues to feed bacteria. Even within an hour, it is possible for bacteria to form a thick film on the teeth known as plaque. Left undisturbed, the plaque allows a large colony of bacteria to establish and wreck havoc on a tooth.
Clinical research has demonstrated that the frequency of sugar intake is much more destructive than the concentration of sugar eaten. When you are snacking throughout the day or sipping on juice, a near constant supply of food continues to nourish the bacteria in the mouth. Therefore, you can still enjoy desserts and candy without causing harm to your teeth as long as you are enjoying your treat at one point in time. We recommend to have sweet foods and drinks at or after mealtimes when your salivary glands are still active and can help clear out food remnants relatively quickly.
In short, there are several other likely factors for tooth decay besides having soft teeth. Most individuals have the ability to control these factors, and dentists or dental hygienists can help to identify which factors are contributing to your cavities. If you aren’t willing to change the habits that led to your cavities, then shifting the blame on “soft teeth” (which is not a clinical diagnosis) may help you sleep at night.
Click here to find out how to build a fool-proof oral hygiene regimen (brush, floss, mouthwash).
- American Academy of Pediatric D Guideline on dental management of heritable dental developmental anomalies. Pediatr Dent. 2017 Sep 15;39(6):348-353.