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Cavities are mainly the product of having a poor quality of bacterial plaque built up on your teeth. Most of us get our oral bacteria from our mothers, for example when they taste our food before feeding us as a child. Bacteria are actually necessary to keep your teeth lubricated for chewing and to physically exclude pathogenic bacteria from inhabiting the mouth and causing respiratory diseases and others. Unfortunately, some of these “helpful bacteria” produce acids that demineralize your enamel producing cavities.

In order to avoid cavities, you obviously need to keep your teeth clean, and also maintain an environment in your mouth that is more hospitable to bacteria that do not produce acids and less hospitable to those that do. Here is how to do it:

-Brush your teeth in the morning before breakfast so that there are fewer bacteria in the mouth when you introduce food that the bacteria could use to multiply and make acids. Also brush before going to bed each night since during sleep your mouth is driest and there is less saliva to buffer acids in the mouth.

-Use a low abrasive toothpaste with fluoride, like pronamel, with a soft bristled tooth brush or better still an electric tooth brush. High abrasives can remove the protein pellicle that coats the surface of your teeth to help them resist acids. The pellicle is like the skin of your teeth. If you are not sure if your toothpaste is highly abrasive, rub some between your fingers, you shouldn’t feel any grittiness.

-Avoid, as much as possible, acidic foods and drinks like candies, sodas, kombucha, etc. Your tooth enamel begins to demineralize below a pH of 5.5

-Rinse before bedtime with an alcohol-free mouthwash that has a basic pH. Alcohol doesn’t actually do much to kill bacteria, notoriously “alcoholic” rinses like Listerine kill bacteria with essential oils. Alcohol will dry out your mouth however, which is counterproductive. The majority of mouthwashes also unfortunately have an acidic pH, the low pH stabilizes the ingredients and increases shelf-life. The only readily available mouthwash that I have found with a basic pH is Tom’s of Maine Natural Baking Soda Mouthwash. You can always make your own baking soda rinse, but I think it is easier just to buy it at the store.

-If your dentist thinks you are at a very high risk for cavities, he might recommend swishing with a baking soda rinse after meals to reverse any drop in pH that might result from bacterial metabolism of sugars. Swishing with water is a less effective, but a satisfactory solution for the rest of us.

I hope you found all of this helpful. Happy brushing!

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