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Tooth Decay

Cavities left neglected can lead to infection, permanent destruction of tooth surfaces, even loss of teeth !

Dental caries is a chronic infectious disease.
Tooth decay is a bacterial disease.

What is tooth decay?

    Tooth decay is the disease that is not life threatening and the good news is that it is preventable! 

 

Few people view decay for what it is - a chronic infectious disease.

What causes tooth decay?

    It occurs when your teeth are frequently exposed to foods containing carbohydrates such as starches and sugars like soda pop, candy, cake and even sticky fruits. 

     Natural bacteria  live in your mouth and form plaque.  Plaque interacts with food deposits on your teeth to produce acid that will slowly dissolve the calcium in your teeth. The bacteria that causes decay is know as  Streptococcus mutans.  

     An area of decay may take as long as 6-8 years  or as short as 6 months to dissolve the outer layer (enamel) of the tooth.  If you have a "cavity" this outer layer has collapsed producing a hole that cannot repair itself

How to have cavities:

  • Don't brush or floss so bacteria can make acid which causes calcium loss from the enamel of your teeth

  • Eat foods with sugar between meals which produces acid for 20 minutes.  Just think of the bacteria count of your mouth after three meals, that can equal 60 minutes of acid production a day!  Try  drinking  three pops and 3 cups of coffee/tea with sugar between those meal and you will have 180 min of acid production

  • Don't drink water with fluoride or use any dental products with fluoride

  • Snack on foods and drinks high sugar and acid to feed the bacteria in your mouth and decrease your saliva production

Who gets cavities?

     We are all at risk because of the bacteria in our mouths.  But people who eat diets high in sugar, drink unfluoridated water, have dry mouths, take different medications; who have a lot of fillings and who don't brush often are more at risk for cavities.  However, children are the highest risk group for cavities.  Decay that is unique to adults are: 

  • Root cavities-As you age, your gums can recede, leaving parts of your tooth root exposed. Since there is no enamel covering your tooth roots, these exposed areas easily decay. Most people over 60 have root cavities as a result of gum disease
  • Repeated decay around existing fillings-Decay can form around existing fillings and crowns.  This is because these areas are not as smooth as a natural tooth surface and can decay easier.

What areas are likely to decay?

  • Surfaces

  • Teeth next to each other because this area is hard to clean

  • Pits

  • Fissures in the "chewing" (occlusal) surface of teeth

  • Gum line


Dental Infection

  The longer you wait to have a tooth treated the more intensive, lengthy and costly the treatment will be.