Cavities. As a child — and even as an adult — this word still manages to send fear into the hearts of many. You know that brushing twice daily and flossing regularly can dramatically cut down on your risk for developing cavities, but what many people don’t know is how cavities are caused or the best ways to ensure you never get one. Check out these shocking facts about cavities and learn how they’re caused and how you can prevent them with Dr. Kami Hoss profesional help.
- Cavities are bacterial infections. Technically, the actual cavity is just a hole that forms in your tooth, but it’s what causes the tooth to break down that’s the real problem. A bacteria living in everyone’s mouths called streptococcus mutans is responsible for breaking down sugars as they enter our mouths. As the sugars are deconstructed by the bacteria, acid is produced as a byproduct; as the acid comes in contact with our teeth, it begins to dissolve the enamel, softening it. Once these soft spots are present, they offer easy access for bacteria to bypass the enamel and set up shop in the gums and roots of your teeth, and brushing and flossing alone stop being adequate to stop the decay.
- Cavities are super common. Aside from the common cold, tooth decay is the second most common disease, affecting over 25% of children in the United States, 50% of people aged 12 to 15, and over 90% of the adults over 40 living in America. In 2009, dental expenses accounted for almost 18% of all health care expenses for kids age 5 to 17, costing approximately $20 billion. The worst part? Tooth decay is preventable and can be mostly avoided with routine dental care.
- The problem isn’t always sugar. While sugar itself is a primary cause of tooth decay by providing the substance the bacteria in our mouths will turn into tooth-rotting acid, eliminating sugar from our diets entirely would be quite difficult and unnecessary because sugars aren’t the entirety of the problem when it comes to tooth decay. Even foods we consider to be healthy can lead to the deterioration of enamel. While we consider sugar to be the main problem, problem foods are typically ones that are sticky and can include everything from dried fruit to granola. If you usually turn to a sticky snack when you’re hungry midday, try to brush your teeth afterwards and, if not, at least rinse your mouth with water. It’s also a good idea to limit your snacking to specified times as grazing — or snacking gradually over an extended period of time — can increase your cavity risk by extending the amount of time your teeth are in contact with harmful sugars.
By taking care of your teeth, you’re not only saving your smile but could be saving your health in the long run. Aside from the oral benefits of avoiding cavities, there is also evidence showing an association between poor oral hygiene and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Do what’s best for your mouth and for yourself, and do your part to stop your own war on cavities.
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