5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cavities

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Yes, we know: you don’t always like visiting us.

And by “us”, I mean “your dentists” — the people who make sure your smile is healthy and big and sparkly.

Sure, you love our hygienists: they make your teeth shiny and don’t cause you much, if discomfort. But the doctor comes in to evaluate your oral health, and you can think the maniacal dentist from Little Shop of Horrors singing, “I thrill when drill a bicuspid!”

Well, here’s something you might surprised to hear: we don’t really want have turn the drill. We’d much rather you didn’t have cavities for treat in first place!

I always teach my patients that first line of defense against cavities — or call the dental caries — is prevention. Brushing for two minutes twice a day, flossing daily, and mouthwash are great ways to help keep the cavities forming.

But despite our best efforts, some of us — myself included! — have had to see dentist the treat cavity.

Here are five things you never knew about cavities. Some of might surprise you.

1. A cavity is bacterial infection rolex datejust

Basically, cavity is just hole in your tooth. But that hole to whole lot needs to happen in your mouth. Here’s a brief rundown.

Dental caries, the technical term for a cavity, is caused by streptococcus mutans, a bacteria that we’ve in our mouths. As sugars enter our mouth, it’s broken down by mutans, and secretes acid byproduct. This acid starts to dissolve and soften our enamel. (The enamel, by way, is outer layer of tooth, and is actually the strongest substance that our bodies make!) These soft spots provide easy routes for bacteria to enter our teeth and take up residence.

Once this happens, it becomes harder to clean the bacteria just from brushing, flossing, and rinsing. And as long as the bacteria is there, it can continue the process of dissolving the tooth, which will eventually lead to cavity.

2. Cavities are about timing

Obviously can’t completely eliminate sugar from our diet. Even healthy foods, like whole grains, fruits, etc, can broken down into simple sugars that mutans feeds. However, there are things can lessen the effect of sugars have on our teeth.

When food enters our mouth, it starts immediately being broken down into simple sugars. These sugars are bacteria energy source. As the sugars are broken down by bacteria, acids are secreted byproducts. This whole process lasts about 30 minutes — not the time you start eating, but from your last sugar intake.

So let’s say you want to eat some Skittles. It would better you to down the entire bag at once rather than prolonging the snacking over extended period of time. (And remember, if you’re eating sugary foods, it’s always best to during your meals. That way, you’re making more saliva to buffer the acid and wash away the sugars.)

3. Sugar is not always the enemy rolex datejust watches

Did you know some sugars can actually to prevent cavities. And you thought sugar was the enemy!

Let’s be clear here: certain sugars — like those found in dietary carbohydrates — are what the bacteria need to start the cavity process. (See #2.) However, there are some natural sugars that can stunt and even stop the cavity process. Xylitol, found in many mints and gums, is sugar that ingested by bacteria, actually prevents from breaking down sugars into acids. At therapeutic levels — two pieces, three times a day, at least five minutes — it can even kill these cavity-causing bacteria.

4. Sometimes we can treat your cavities without even turning the drill

Sure, we can drill ‘em and fill ‘em, but there are other methods we’ve to deal with some cavities, as long as catch them early enough.

If a cavity remains in the enamel only — what call incipient lesion — then might able to reverse. In that case, we’ll have you fluoride, which is found in most toothpastes, mouthwashes, and even your tap water. Fluoride is natural and safe way to strengthen the enamel, making it harder for bacteria to dissolve. Fun fact: the Center for Disease Control (CDC) rated fluoride the ten greatest public health achievements of twentieth century.

Some dentists are even experimenting with “no-drill fillings,” if and when they catch the cavity early enough. Here’s how: The cavity process starts when the enamel is dissolved, leaving a porous texture to that area of the tooth. This treatment uses a mild acid to completely cleanse that affected tooth structure, allowing a resin material to fill in the voids and strengthen the tooth. (NPR has a nice summary you can read about “drill-less fillings.” Just sure to know that the jury is still out to whether or not such treatments are effective.)

Upshot? Make sure you come in to see us regularly because the sooner catch cavity forming, the more treatment options we’ll have.

5. Having cavities is the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood

Although cavities are largely preventable, they remain the “most common chronic disease of children aged 6 to 11 years and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years,” according the CDC. In fact, kids miss over 50 million hours of school each year due to dental problems and related illnesses. replica rolex datejust watches

About 20 percent of children aged five to 11, and 13 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 have had at least one untreated decayed tooth, according to study cited the CDC. In different study, the CDC predicted that by the age of 15, about 60 percent of all adolescents will have experienced dental caries. And the numbers look even grimmer for children and adolescents from low-income families.

All of that dental care really adds up! In 2009, for instance, dental expenses accounted for roughly $20 billion — almost 18 percent — of all health care expenses for children aged five to 17.

That’s a lot of money — and to think, some of those expenses could’ve been avoided with twice daily brushing and flossing, and regular dental check-ups!

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