Cavities, eh?

How do I get a cavity?

You might ask this question when you bring your child in for a new patient exam or recall.

Cavities (also known as caries or tooth decay) is a disease process with a multi-factorial etiology, meaning it requires several factors to actually occur. The common belief is that teeth with cavities are “weak”, and that “weak” teeth are spread through genetics from generation to generation.

There are three ingredients required for tooth decay: (1) having teeth, (2) being colonized at a young age by cavity-causing bacteria, and (3) sugar. The pathogenic bacteria (known as Streptococcus mutans) metabolize the sugar that you eat, which produces acid that decays tooth structure. The last two ingredients are commonly overlooked. Most importantly, appreciating this process forms the basis of prevention.

How do I prevent cavities?

  1. Brush your teeth regularly to remove the bacteria from your teeth. Unfortunately, you cannot wipe the bacteria out completely. They will always be in your mouth waiting for the right opportunity to grow; nevertheless, effective brushing throughout the day will keep their numbers down.
  2. Time your brushing with carbohydrate consumption. Limit carbohydrates to your meals so that the bacteria are not feeding on sugar all throughout the day.
  3. Remember, not all sugar is sweet. Foods such as crackers and potatoes are loaded with sugar that the pathogenic bacteria will still use to produce acid.
  4. Fluoride (in toothpaste) makes your teeth stronger by making them more resistant to acid breakdown.

If you have any questions about tooth decay, or how to prevent cavities in your child, please call our office. Dr. Perusini and the staff at Avenue PD will gladly address your concerns, and ensure that you have the right information for a lifetime of good teeth.

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