Dental caries, also known as a cavity or tooth decay, is a common disease of children as well as adults. Although there have been notable declines in tooth decay over the past three decades, it remains the most common chronic childhood disease, more widespread than asthma by at least five times. For adults, nine out of 10 over the age of 20 have some degree of tooth decay.
Dental caries is a chronic, infectious disease caused by acid-forming bacteria that dissolve the surfaces of the teeth, creating holes. Three factors allow this to happen:
A susceptible tooth surface
Groups of bacteria found in dental plaque, the white, sticky substance that accumulates on teeth, especially around the gum line
A diet high in sugar
The mouth contains bacteria, making everyone susceptible to tooth decay. Risk factors for increasing the chances of getting the disease include: poor oral hygiene; high amounts of harmful bacteria; a diet high in sugar; insufficient fluoride; medications that contain sugar or cause dry mouth; malnutrition, including vitamin and mineral deficiencies; medical conditions that decrease the flow of saliva, which is needed to help rinse away food and neutralize acids; chemo/radiation therapy; eating disorders; drug/alcohol abuse; irregular dental care; gum disease and recession resulting in exposure to root surfaces.
Five tips for preventing tooth decay
One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay is by brushing your teeth thoroughly before bedtime and at least one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste.
Make sure that you brush the inner, outer and biting surfaces of your teeth. Using ‘interdental' brushes, or dental floss or tape, also helps to remove plaque and food from between your teeth and where they meet the gums. These are areas an ordinary toothbrush can't reach.
Visit experienced dentists regularly, and take your children, as often as experienced dentists recommend. The dentist is better equipped to spot problems before they develop into something more serious. This makes treatment quicker, easier, less invasive and less costly.
Try replacing sugar-containing foods with healthy and nutritious alternatives that are lower in sugar or even better sugar free. Avoid snacking between meals, to limit the number of times your teeth are under attack from acids.
Visit experienced dentists at ALERIS SALEM DENTAL CENTER in Salem, MA for: regular professional cleanings, oral assessment, customized home-care program and dietary counselling; fluoride applications for children and some adults, depending on susceptibility; sealant applications, a protective, plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, in cavity-prone areas where pit and fissures form.
Our experienced dentists would be happy to answer any questions you have.