It's Probably Not Your Fault
I brush my teeth twice a day with an electric toothbrush. I floss every day. I use mouth wash every night. I rarely drink soda and other sugary drinks. And I still have new cavities when I go to my regular 6 month check up. Why? What is wrong with me? What do I keep getting cavities? This is what I asked my dentist recently, more than a little exasperated. What I found out was interesting and comforting and can benefit anyone with similar frustrations.
First, brushing, flossing, and using mouth wash are good and helpful. Continue to use them. Particularly, use an electric toothbrush as they are do a better job at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes. You don't need expensive an Sonicare toothbrush, either. The cheap $5 electric toothbrushes will work just fine and arguably, just as good.
Second, stay on top of your dental hygiene with regular dentist visits. This will give your dentist a chance to catch problems before they get worse as well as giving you a thorough cleaning to remove plaque and tartar.
Third, your diet does influence your dental hygiene. Keeping sugary, sticky drinks and food in your mouth contribute to cavities. Drinking soda often or sucking on hard candies through out the day give plaque the environment it needs to thrive. Ok, so now you're up to speed, lets answer the question of why you can still get cavities even though you are doing everything right.
There are two factors mostly outside of your control. The first is the actual shape of your teeth. Your molars have dents and crevasses unique to you, sort of like fingerprints. In some people, the natural shape of their teeth prevent food from getting stuck and makes an easy surface for a toothbrush to clean. Other people, more similar to myself, have molars that naturally trap and hide food. The valleys and nooks in the molar prevent a toothbrush from reaching the food hidden in them. This explains why you can brush and brush your teeth, but the toothbrush bristles aren't able to reach all the surfaces to clean.
One way of helping this problem is to get your molars sealed. The dentist will put a sealing agent into the nooks and crannies of your molars to prevent any food and plaque from getting into them. It's sort of like a filling even though there is no cavity. This is preventative dentistry that insurance generally will not cover and is usually performed for children, but ask your dentist about it if you are interested.
The second factor is the moisture in your mouth. The wetter your mouth naturally is, the better for your teeth. This can be unintuitive, but it is true. The reason is that when your mouth produces saliva, it washes your teeth and helps keep them cleaner. If you suffer from dry-mouth, the drier environment in your mouth is more conducive for plaque and bacteria to grow, increasing your risk of cavities. Unfortunately, other than frequently drinking water, there isn't much you can do to change the moisture levels in your mouth, as it is natural, genetic personal attribute.
The bottom line is that after you are doing the dentist recommended activities of brushing, flossing, regular visits, and avoiding soda, there isn't a whole lot left you can do. Your genetic makeup controls two very influential aspects of cavities: your tooth shape, and mouth moisture. This is likely why you have friends that brag they've never had a cavity. Their teeth probably have few crevasses and they produce a lot of saliva naturally.
But don't give up hope. There is research suggesting that pills or additives in food can completely kill the plaque bacteria and make cavities a thing of the past or at least very rare, like chicken pox. Until such a safe additive is perfected and made available, don't blame yourself (or your dentist) if you keep getting cavities.
For more information about your teeth, check our my other articles here: