Controlling (and Preventing) the Bad Bacteria
Cavities come from the breakdown of tooth enamel caused by bacteria like S. mutans, and its interaction with the food and drinks in your diet. The bad bacteria combine with some foods – especially sugars and complex carbohydrates – to form an acid that does the actual damage against your enamel. Because the film that develops on the teeth is chronic and constantly occurring, disturbing the germ-rich plaque film needs to be done regularly.
Of course, avoiding food and drinks that are high in sugar lessens the bacteria's ability to form tooth-destroying acids. For most people, doing the following will reduce the risk:
- Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste like Colgate TotalSF Clean Mint
- Floss every day to clean in between teeth, where S. mutans can spread beyond a brush's normal reach
- Eat nutritious meals and limit the most convenient snacks
- Keep up with your regular dental checkups
- Consider pit and fissure sealants if necessary
These proven approaches are crucial and will help reduce the decay rate for most people. Some individuals exhibit a higher amount of cavities, though, and new assessments and products can help control the bacteria as well as treat and remineralize early lesions before they progress. Keep in mind you may need more frequent dental visits and X-rays, saliva testing and rinses (or supplements) to address a higher risk.
Fighting streptococcus mutans is a constant battle, but your dental professionals are uniquely qualified to provide the tools needed to fight it. Seeking regular care will identify your risks, and help you rest assured that your dentist can provide treatment along with a recommended home care regimen. Controlling the bad bacteria requires diligence – from diet to healthy habits – and the most important person in the process is you.