Choosing the right toothpaste can be important for most patients. In the last post, we discussed how toothpastes and rinses that contain the ingredient chlorine dioxide can be an important aid in fighting tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Today we will focus on its affect on tooth decay.
Cavity-causing decay is the biggest threat to the strength of teeth. It is caused by the bacteria that make up the biofilm which forms on the tooth surface. Battling this bacteria is obviously the key to winning the fight against decay. Lets take a look at how this disease works and what we can do to stop it.
De-mineralizing tooth structure.
The process of decay is a demineralizing of the tooth surface. When the bacterial film that forms on our teeth is allowed to persist, it creates a very acidic environment by converting carbohydrates to acid. This acid causes the enamel coating of the tooth to dissolve, which literally eats a hole in the tooth.
Strengthening tooth structure.
Traditional protection has used Fluoride (in water and toothpaste) to strengthen the enamel and make it less vulnerable. Fluoride replaces calcium in the mineral matrix. This makes the enamel harder and more resistant to bacterial assault. It can even promote remineralization of small lesions. This is a pretty effective strategy. Studies show that fluoride can reduce the incidence of decay by over 50%. But what if we could add another angle to that approach of making teeth stronger?
Decay is basically an infection. Why not just kill the infection? We have had prescription strength ingredients that were good at killing bacteria (like chlorhexidine) for quite some time. However, their use is limited to the short term. They are just too harsh to use on an everyday basis. Chlorine dioxide is an effective anti-microbial ingredient that is very gentle, and can be used everyday. Adding this germ killing ability to our toothpaste gives us the ability to reduce the infection. There are two brands that have it, CloSys and Oxyfresh. Being able to fight decay two ways is a big advantage, especially for patients who are having a particular problem with decay.
High risk patients.
Unless you are one of those lucky people who are fairly immune to the bacteria in the biofilm, we all have some trouble with decay. However, some patients experience an incidence that is much higher than normal. Factors that contribute include: decreased manual dexterity (due to injury or arthritis), lots of wires and other obstacles because of braces, dry mouth (biological factors or medications that reduce salivary flow), and compromised immune systems which make them less resistant to infection. A more effective strategy is especially helpful for patients who are at a higher risk. Ask us if one of these toothpastes would be good for you.