"I brush and floss my teeth every day. How come I keep getting cavities?" We are asked this question often. It's important to understand what causes cavities in order to work toward preventing them. Our knowledge of dental decay has come a long way in the past 20 years. We used to think it was caused by two or three strains of bacteria. However, recent DNA studies have shown that there are hundreds of different bacteria in the mouth that can contribute to caries (caries is just the dental term for tooth decay or cavities), and it is indeed a bacterial infection. The Ramsey Dental Group has recently acquired a new and very helpful piece of technology for measuring cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth, a Cariscreen Testing Meter.
Now for a quick science lesson :)
ATP is an organic chemical that all life uses for energy. Cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth are shown to create and consume more ATP than other bacteria. Therefore, if you have high amounts of cavity-causing bacteria, you will have high amounts of ATP in your mouth. The Cariscreen Meter measures ATP levels.
The Cariscreen Meter takes about 15 seconds and tells us right away if you have high or low levels of bacteria with an actual number. High readings tell us that you are at high risk for further tooth decay, while low bacteria levels show a lower risk. It is a great tool for measuring cavity risk, but it's not the only one we have.
Now that we can quantify cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth using the Cariscreen meter, we can do a Caries Risk Assessment based on risk factors, protective factors, while also considering the level of bacteria in your mouth. There are many factors that put patients at increased risk for high levels of cavity-causing bacteria and dental decay. Some are habits like snacking frequently or drinking soda often, while others are conditions like dry mouth. Conversely, there are many protective factors, such as fluoride tooth paste, sealants, and antibacterial mouth rinse that can help combat caries.
Once we have a good understanding of the factors at work in your mouth, we can address the cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth with a few different prescription antibacterial mouth rinses that specifically target these types of bacteria.
There is no 'one size fits all' for dental care or prevention. The Cariscreen meter with the Caries Risk Assessment is another way to customize treatment for you and your family. This is just one of the many ways that the Ramsey Dental Group is working to help keep your smile healthy for years to come.
Dr. Ramsey, Dr. Gilmore, Dr. DuVall
Marsha, Taryn, Angie, Heather, Hillary, Lauren, Brianna, Gaetana, and Gail