K.I.S.S. Tooth Decay GOODBYE!

Barbara Tritz
· April 12, 2016 ·

10 minutes


So. You read the last post (you did read it, right? it’s here) and now you’re armed with the “how-to” knowledge, and ready to start a great new health routine habit. I’m here to help.
What’s your Reward? No more new cavities? Never getting the floss lecture, ever again!?  Do you want to have a healthy mouth for you and your family?  YES! Yes!! you do, and good for you!  
It can be done and I’ll keep it super simple: 



K.I.S.S. the Decay Away!  

This is how you get decay:
A perfect storm occurs! The formula:
Tooth + Decay bacteria + Sugar (carbohydrates) + Poor quality saliva + Acidic environment = Cavitation (Cavities)
This is the simple reason folks get cavities.  (Read my other posts to get more in depth information on  preventing decay)

See the dark spots under the bright white? That's lots of root decay beneath a front bridge!

See the dark spots under the bright white? That’s lots of root decay beneath a front bridge!

#1.  Teeth– in order to have decay, obviously you need teeth BUT – people (adults and babies) without teeth can and do have both gum disease bacteria and tooth decay bacteria in their mouths.  They can spread these infections through saliva.

#2.  In order to get a cavity you need to have the pathogens – the bad bacteria.  No bacteria? no cavity.  These bacteria are contagious.  We get them from others and give’m to those we love.  The bacteria excrete (poop) acid on your teeth which “demineralizes” or takes out the minerals from your tooth, causing cavity formation.

#3. Carbohydrates break down in your mouth to simple sugars which then feeds the bacteria.  Bagel or candy bar – almost no difference.

#4. Dry mouth, or even poor quality of saliva (it’s liquid gold!), due to medications, immune problems, medical issues and even genetics could play a part in tooth decay.  Good quality saliva is vital to healthy teeth.  Saliva contains minerals.  Having poor quality or no saliva causes tooth breakdown because there are no minerals going back into the tooth thus cavities take over and the tooth breaks down, sometimes rapidly.

#5. Acidic environment, either from what you put into your mouth- soda, energy drinks, lattes- or from your stomach due to acid reflux (even silent reflux) causes the bacteria to flourish.  They love it when the pH of your mouth stays below neutral (which is 7 on the pH scale).  Root decay occurs when the pH  dips below 6.5 and occlusal (tops of the teeth) decay happens when the pH is below 5.5.
 Here’s how to prevent decay:
In order to stop decay we need to break down the formula- interrupt it and reverse the demineralization process.
#1. Good oral hygiene practices– daily – get the plaque off, get rid of that bad bacteria.

#2. Watch your diet– Stop constantly sipping on that latte or soda, or nibbling on that granola bar or M&M’s.  It’s the amount of time sugar is on your teeth that really matters. Nonstop grazing feeds the bacteria all day.  That is why we in the dental profession hate hard candies.  After you eat, rinse. (At least.)

#3. Breathe through your nose– mouth breathing leads to dry mouth.  Suck on xylitol candies- it’s a good sugar that reverses dry mouth and kills the bad bacteria.  If you have two or more prescription medications- you are at extremely high risk for decay and need extra attention from your fabulous dental hygienist.  Medications result in poor quality saliva.

#4. Water is your friend, just not certain bottled water, which can be acidic.  Crazy, I know, but it can be!  Click here for a list of water pH.  (We did our own experiment here at home with my husband’s pH meter.  My readings were a little different  and I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the top ten bottled waters were either neutral or slightly basic.  I will post my results  shortly.)  Where does your water fall on this list?  My ideal water would be alkaline.  In WA state I came across essentia which had a pH of 9.5, and it tastes great!!
This is your “shopping list” 

#1. Get the plaque off – it really is “All about the Plaque” (see my blog post about plaque) – the bacteria, viruses, and other baaaaad guys hang out there so ya gotta get’em off your teeth and outta your mouth.  I call this the “plaque biofilm.” It’s alive! and wants to live on your teeth, in your mouth, and then also on your gums, tongue, roof of your mouth and even the tonsil areas.  (Hmmm, brushing just your teeth is not enough, is it?)   

Brush everything! Well, not your tonsils, but don’t stop at your teeth- do swipe over your gums, cheeks, roof of mouth, and then clean your tongue. 

My favorite tool is a power toothbrush – and change the brush head every three months. (I change my entire family’s brushes with the seasons.)  Power brushes range in price from $15.00 to over $200.00.  Get the best one you can afford for all your family members, even the kids.

If a power toothbrush just isn’t in your budget, then, of course, a manual brush is fine.  Dry brush – no toothpaste, no water, until your teeth feel and taste clean.  (To get all the plaque off with a manual brush can take upwards of 15 minutes.)  Then use toothpaste.  The power brush is really much faster so start saving up for one if you can! 
We’ll cover toothpaste in a moment.

SUNSTAR GUM® Soft-Picks® Advanced 60 ct

New and improved! 

Clean in-between.  Yes, I am well aware you dislike flossing.  Yes, a lot.  I agree- it’s not a habit you’ve acquired (yet).  So, let’s instead use a different tool that’s easy (and is not those floss-on-a-stick things.)  Brushing only cleans 60% of the tooth surface, don’t you want to clean 100%?

Many different sizes

My favorite tools in this category- Soft picks and Piksters.  There are many different brands of “interproximal cleaners”-  these are my fave’s.  I get no kickbacks from any of these companies, and there are other brands that are just as good.  I’m giving you photos so if your local pharmacy doesn’t have them, you can show them what you want or order it yourself from the internet. 
I like Piksters because they have such an assortment of sizes, and the fact you can bend the brush 90 degrees and work it in-between the teeth from the tongue/palate side too.  They last a long time, but do use a little soap and water to wash and clean them. 

Best floss EVER!

Best floss EVER!

If you are a flosser- super! Here’s my fave: woven floss.  I use J&J Total Care Gentle Gum Care floss but there are lots of different brands with woven floss.  My problem with other flosses is that all of the waxed or slick/slippery flosses just slide right over the plaque biofilm leaving it still there, which totally defeats the purpose of flossing.  (If you have something stuck between your teeth, though, slick floss is the best.)  

I love water irrigators and cleaning underneath the gumline as well.  Today’s post is about trying to simplify routines and make life easier for you.  If you want more details on irrigation, I’ll be including a post on that soon.  😉 

Toothpaste – okay- do you really need it?
Well, maybe – depends. Toothpaste has a job to do – and it needs to be treated as medicine.  My number one, most-read post out there is about toothpaste.  
There are lots of over-the-counter toothpastes, which to choose?  In tooth decay situations I want a paste that’ll put minerals back in the teeth, keep plaque from sticking and raise the pH of the mouth.   That’s a lot to ask of a little dab of paste.  To accomplish this: brush, spit and don’t rinse- let it sit on your teeth and do its thing! 

          My faves: Enamelon – remineralizes teeth
Carifree CTx4Gel– remineralizes teeth, and puts xylitol in your mouth
Livionex – repels plaque
Colgate Total -repels plaque
Baking Soda- yes, plain old baking soda- wet it and brush gently. There aren’t minerals in there but it kills bacteria, it’s so gentle yet cleans well, and of course, raises the pH.

Pick one or two and stick with it!  Be picky about your paste. 

How about this costume?

How about this costume?

Tongue Cleaning  probably should have gone completely under plaque removal, but I wanted to make sure it stood out- and this picture just kills me!  Squeeze and scrape that plaque-biofilm  off the very back of the tongue – twice daily.  Yes, I realize you gag, but the more you do it the more you’ll desensitize the gag reflex.

          My Fave: Tongue Sweeper– it’s metal and will last forever!
Do clean it off now and then.  Top rack of the dishwasher, or soap and water!   

#2. Kill the bad guys – tooth decay bacteria and other pathogens cause the minerals to leave your teeth, which causes cavitations-i.e. the cavities in the teeth.  I’ve got lots of information on tooth decay- more than you really want to know, but in case you do – click here and here for the science.  The more you know, the better you can stop decay! 

       My favorite killer products!  
          1. Carifree treatment rinse and actually all their products.  Carifree products  make your mouth a less friendly place for the bacteria.  Gargle with the rinses to reach your tonsils and the bacteria there too.  It raises the pH, so, bacteria that cause decay die.  OH  Happy Day! 
          2. Xylitol- It has it’s very own post, so go read up!  Short version: Five servings of xylitol per day will reduce the plaque biofilm buildup on your teeth by 60% and it tastes great!  The bacteria can’t digest xylitol but they try, and lo and behold, they die!  Xylitol is a good sugar – safe for diabetics and just don’t overdo it. IT MUST BE KEPT AWAY FROM THE FAMILY DOG.
          3. * My Newest Favorite way to kill decay bacteria- bleach whitening trays with 10% carbamide peroxide.  This is actually  one of the original teeth whitening bleaches of long ago.  Use your trays with this bleach once per week – for 30 minutes.  It kills the decay bacteria, raises the pH and reduces the plaque on your teeth.  I just returned from a continuing education course and this was my favorite “take-away” from the course!  This is HUGE!  It’s easy, and as a side benefit, you get whiter teeth (if you do it more than once per week).  The 10% carbamide peroxide will not harm your teeth – honestly, it’s the tooth decay bacteria that destroy your teeth.  Have your dentist make the trays so they cover part of your gum tissues as well, and be sure they use a nice stiff plastic.  Pay for a “lab made” tray- it’ll last longer.  It’ll be a little pricier but if it keeps you from getting even one cavity, it’ll have paid for itself ten times over!  Click on the link above and take it to your dentist, ask for bleach trays. EASY and so effective. That’s why I love going to courses. There’s always something I learn that’ll make my life and yours better.

#3. Oral Probiotics – after you remove and kill the “bad guys”, we need the “good guys” to take over.  Suck and then dissolve one tablet on your tongue after breakfast and then after dinner for 30 minutes.  It reduces plaque buildup, neutralizes the mouth, and it helps with bad breath!  Even children can use these, as long as they can suck on the mint.  If they can’t yet suck, then choking could be a hazard.  EvoraPro even has a probiotic for your pets- their breath can get stinky too!  

The only contraindication to using probiotics would be if you are immunocompromised, since there are live bacteria in these lozenges.

There are several on the market, Here are my favorites:

                            Venus Smile Oral Care Probiotic Mints
Spry Probiotic

#4. Close your mouth and breathe through your nose.  It will help raise the pH of your mouth and make it healthier.  Check the pH of your mouth with pH strips- pHion balance strips can be used  to test saliva. For more info: Breathing- Not Everyone is Doing it Right. 

So, to  recap- get the plaque off,  kill bad bacteria, put in good bacteria, remineralize, and get that saliva flowing.  Easy, and simple, really!

I spend about 10 minutes max on my teeth daily:
In the morning, I brush- my sonicare is programmed to run for three minutes- then I floss ( I’m a hygienist, I floss) and clean my tongue, which takes about 4 minutes total, I pikster in my car, and then in the PM before bed I brush, tongue scrape, and pikster again.  (You’d be surprised at the amount of food that comes out from between the teeth, even after flossing!)  I do this after dinner- for a personal two-birds-one-stone it cuts down on after dinner snacking!  I’ve just started using the probiotics, so I will update you on that as I get going, and while I haven’t yet started using my bleach trays for decay prevention, I’m planning to get new ones made so I can incorporate that as well!

It’s hard to overcome bad habits and start new ones.  In case you didn’t read it at the beginning, last weeks’s post was dedicated to habit formation so go back and take a closer look at that article.  Try doing things differently.  Instead of brushing after breakfast, as you’re running out the door, brush in the shower.  In the evening when you’re going to bed and too tired to spend more than two seconds brushing?  That’s a recipe for failure.  Instead, brush 30 minutes after dinner, and then pop that probiotic in your mouth while you watch television.  I have a container of soft picks and xylitol mints in my car and use them every time I drive.  Change your routine up or sandwich new quick habits between things you already do daily, and you’ll be on your way to a much healthier you!

Now you know how to K.I.S.S. tooth decay good-bye for good!

Questions, comments, or thoughts?  I’d love to hear from you!
Til next time,

Keep smiling!

Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

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