Did you know that only 1% of Americans have NEVER had a cavity? Wow… That means almost all of us, have had, or will have, at least one cavity in our lifetime, no matter how well we take care of our oral health.
What causes tooth decay?
Bacteria and food can cause tooth decay. A clear, sticky substance called plaque (Biofilm) is always forming on your teeth and gums. Plaque contains bacteria that feed on the sugars in the food you eat.
As the bacteria feed, they make acids. The acids attack the teeth for 20 minutes or more after you eat. Over time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, causing tooth decay.
Things that make you more likely to have tooth decay include:
- Not brushing and flossing your teeth regularly and not seeing a dentist for checkups and cleanings.
- Eating foods that are high in sugar and other carbohydrates, which feed the bacteria in your mouth.
- Not getting enough fluoride. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acids produced by plaque. Fluoride is added to most public water supplies. (Here in Moscow, our water is NATURALLY fluoridated!) :-)
- Not having enough saliva. Saliva washes away food and harmful sugars, so it helps protect your teeth from decay. A dry mouth may be caused by a condition such as xerostomia or Sjögren’s syndrome, by taking certain medicines, or by breathing through your mouth. Older adults are more likely to have a dry mouth.
- Having diabetes.
- Smoking, using spit (smokeless) tobacco, or breathing secondhand smoke.
Children, whose teeth are still growing, are more likely than adults to have tooth decay. This is because the minerals in new teeth are not very strong and are easier for acids to eat away.
Even babies can be at risk for tooth decay. Babies who are put to bed with a bottle can get “bottle mouth “—tooth decay caused by the sugar in milk, formula, or juice. Babies aren’t born with decay-causing bacteria in their mouths. But they can get bacteria from adults who share spoons, forks, or other utensils with them.
So, you have a cavity… Now what?
Having a cavity no longer means that your smile is compromised. Here at Naturally Designed Smiles, we know that your smile MATTERS! Dr. Peterson uses only composite fillings. These fillings actually match the natural color of your tooth, and unlike amalgam fillings, they are not noticeable, nor do they contain Mercury. Many of our patients actually choose to have their old amalgam fillings replaced by composite fillings. (Our staff included!) So even if you can’t count yourself among the lucky 1%, you certainly CAN look like you have NEVER had a cavity! I don’t know about you, but that makes me smile! :-)