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Facts About Tooth Decay

Dental caries also known as tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease; it is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.  Dental caries is the most prevalent unmet dental need.

Although we have progressed in preventative care, the amount of tooth decay seen in children has not diminished or decreased. 51 million hours of school are lost per year because of dental-related illness.

What is the cause of tooth decay?

Tooth decay is a disease that results in the destruction of the enamel, the hard outer layer of the tooth. In order for cavities to develop there must be a host, a dietary substrate, and an aciduric bacteria.

Teeth are the host.  Teeth are susceptible to decay as early as six months when the first tooth erupts in the month.

Dietary substrates that cause tooth decay are usually high in sugar and/or acid.   Examples of dietary substrates that cause the greatest harm to the teeth are; hard candies, carbonated beverages, citrus foods/drinks, sticky foods, and sports drinks.  Bacteria found in plaque use these dietary substrates to produce acid, overtime leading to tooth decay.

Streptococcus Mutans, a bacterium found in the human oral cavity is a major contributor in tooth decay.   S. Mutans is naturally present in the mouth along with 25 or more other oral streptococci.

Under certain conditions, these bacteria can become opportunistic pathogens, initiating disease and causing tooth decay.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay?

  • Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste

    • Children should start using a fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts in the mouth

      • Children under three years of age should use a smear size amount of fluoride toothpaste

      • Children 3-6 years of age should use a peas size amount of fluoride toothpaste

    • Floss in between the teeth

    • Eat healthy, nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking

    • Visit the dentist regularly (twice per year) for routine care

Proper care, treatment and restorations are necessary and critical to preventing the decay from becoming worse.

Call +1 708-794-9526 Joyful Smiles Pediatric Dentistry today to schedule your appointment with our team.