I know that in today’s world of social media, blogs have become a great way to spread information to numerous people. Additionally, there are so many topics in the world of Dentistry that I have learned and practiced, now I feel it is time air out some of this helpful information. I will start by answering the one question that I get as a dentist EVERY DAY!
“Why did I get this cavity?”
This a great question because there are so many different reasons that we all get cavities. Let’s start with the basic, fundamental, everyone needs to know this stuff.
1. Cavities are caused by bacteria and acid
2. The bacteria chews up sugars in our mouth and then makes acid.
3. We also eat and drink things that are acidic.
4. Acid dissolves the crystalline structure of our enamel. This takes years usually 5 years. Once this erosion has chewed through the enamel it reaches a much softer layer of the tooth called dentin.
6. This usually starts as a tiny hole, but once in the dentin, the bacteria flourish and make more bacteria and more acid and this causes a cave to form under the enamel shell.
7. Remember more sugar equals more acid and also more bacteria equals more acid.
8. Now this cave starts growing much faster and deeper and hopefully someone like me finds it before it starts to hurt.
9. Most cavities do not hurt until it is too late.
10. “Too late” is when the decay has reachd the innermost layer of the tooth called the pulp. OUCH! Root canal time
So if we brush everyday, why do we still keep getting cavities?
First of all, try not to be so hard on yourself. You have had only had two sets of teeth. The first set was practice and now you are on your second/last set. Some of us have been really putting this second set through the ringer for a good number of years! Seriously think about it. So you are a great brusher now, maybe even a good flosser, but were you always? When you were 17 and staying up late with friends drinking soda, were you the one kid that stopped and brushed and flossed your teeth before you went to bed? Were you a big fan of bubble gum (the yummy full-of-sugar kind) in your youth? I cannot believe it now but my favorite candy to eat when I was a young teenager was DipSticks, the flavored sugar in 3 different bags and a white edible sugar stick that you licked. I know that some of my current fillings can be traced back to my candy choices back then.
Well you get the point right? Your “teenage/college teeth” are the same teeth that you have now. Tooth enamel does not re-grow…once it is gone it will be gone forever. A lot of our midlife cavities may have been tiny decay lesions that started in our youth and are just now breaching through our super strong enamel and just now getting into that much softer dentin layer.
In my next blog I will discuss a topic that is affecting many patients in their 30’s and 40’s…
“Doc, I brush my teeth everyday, why do I KEEP getting cavities?”