The Best Amalgam Alternative? Not Needing Fillings at All!

While there are plenty of great biocompatible alternatives to mercury amalgam for filling teeth, there’s one alternative that’s even healthier: not needing to have teeth filled at all.

After all, every time a tooth is worked on, it undergoes some degree of trauma. Repeated procedures can mean the ultimate death of the tooth. The less dental work, the better.

Luckily, although most Americans will experience caries in their lifetime, tooth decay is not inevitable. It’s preventable.

Food, Hygiene, & Decay

When it comes to prevention, two factors loom especially large: diet and hygiene.

Eating right for oral health is really no different from eating for your overall health. Meals made from whole and minimally processed foods are the foundation. They’re the source of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed to maintain healthy oral tissues and a robust and resilient immune system.

Eating right also reduces your intake of fermentable carbs – carbohydrates that are easily broken down into simple sugars, the favorite food of harmful oral bacteria. Those pathogens, in turn, produce acids that can destroy tooth enamel and lead to decay. In addition to sugary foods, fermentable carbs also include those made from highly refined grains and starches: bread and pasta made from white flour, for instance, or chips, crackers, and other salty snacks.

Steer clear of these, and you effectively starve the harmful bacteria. Eat real food, and you feed the helpful kind in mouth and gut alike. (Yes, good oral health depends on good gut health.)

Oral hygiene, on the other hand, helps remove debris and plaque. Brushing twice a day and flossing once are the bare minimum. Oral irrigators and interdental brushes can offer extra help in cleaning between your teeth and below the gumline, as well as delivering ozone or other natural antimicrobials to your teeth and gums.

Less Obvious Influences on Tooth Decay Risks

Diet and hygiene are obvious factors that influence your risk of decay. For good or ill, their effects are direct. But there are other factors that may not be so obvious to you. Their influence on your decay risk is more indirect.

Let’s take a look at some of these:

  1. Enamel erosion. As the hardest tissue in your body, tooth enamel is a capable defense against oral pathogens. But it’s not invulnerable. Acidic foods and drinks such as soda and juice can damage it, giving bacteria easy access to the living tissues within. Habitual teeth grinding, bruxism, can do it, too.

  2. Bruxism. One consequence of a teeth grinding habit is gum recession, which raises your risk of decay. Enamel covers only the visible part of your teeth. The roots are covered with a softer tissue called cementum. Because of this, tooth roots become much more vulnerable to decay. Grinding can also lead to tooth fractures – and another point of entry for oral pathogens.

  3. Chronic stress. While ongoing stress can contribute to bruxing, it can also fuel chronic inflammation and weaken your immune system. That means a decreased ability to battle oral pathogens like the ones that cause decay.

  4. Dry mouth. Saliva has many roles, including keeping oral tissues moist, delivering minerals to your teeth, and neutralizing acids. Lack of saliva raises your risk of decay. Some of the most common causes of chronic dry mouth include mouth breathing, certain medicines and medical conditions, or simply not drinking enough water each day.

  5. Smoking and vaping. Both smoking and vaping can raise your decay risk in that they contribute to dry mouth and raise your risk of gum disease, which can lead to gum recession. Both habits also weaken the immune system and restrict blood flow, which raises the risk of infection. Sugars in the sticky aerosols generated from vape juice may also provide another food source for oral pathogens.

  6. Lack of sleep. Sleep disturbances can also affect saliva production, raising the risk of decay. Lack of sleep also fuels chronic inflammation, which, as noted, can worsen gum disease, leading to recession and a greater susceptibility to root caries.

  7. Lack of exercise or regular physical activity. Studies have shown that those who exercise regularly have fewer cavities. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, is linked with poor diet and increased inflammation, as well, not to mention a weakened immune system.

If any of these factors are things that you’re experiencing in your own life, don’t imagine you’re doomed or that you need to change everything all at once. Tackling one change at a time, until the new behavior becomes habitual, is great! Every step toward improvement that you take matters. And success breeds success, making subsequent changes easier.

And know that we’re here to help you every step of the way, providing support, information, and encouragement so you can have the healthiest mouth possible – one that supports whole body health – and not have to think about fillings at all.