Is it Decay Immunity or just good Cavity Prevention?
Tooth decay is an international chronic infectious health disease in industrialized and developing countries, especially in young children. Early Childhood Caries (ECC) begins early in life, progresses rapidly, and causes immediate and long-term effects. People suffering from tooth decay can also suffer pain, lack of self-esteem, and social and emotional delay. This begs the question, why do so many other cultures seem to have tooth decay immunity? Can you be immune to cavities or is it just good cavity prevention? Today, Dr. James Fondriest, your Chicago cosmetic dentist at Lake Forest Dental Arts, answers this questions and explores more about the topic.
If you suspect you have tooth decay, schedule an appointment at our practice. You can reach one of our team members by calling 847-234-0517.
Are Some Cultures Immune or do They Have Better Cavity Prevention?
Many tribal peoples seemed to have remained immune to tooth decay for thousands of years. Apparently they didn’t even brush their teeth, but just rinsed with water. Research states that both the Mayans and the Arctic peoples never brushed their teeth or used toothpaste. About 90 percent of both cultures were immune to tooth decay. The Yucatan diet consisted mostly of beans, corn, and a scattering of fruits and vegetables. The Arctic diet consisted of raw or fermented seafood, seal meat, fat, and liver. Native Americans that lived near the gold rush in California experienced few cavities while eating a diet based on animal meats and fats.
In Iceland, the Norsemen and Irish survived on a seafood diet. They ate meat, vegetables, raw milk cheeses, shellfish, seaweed, and no grains, and they had no cavities.
Once these cultures began eating a Western diet of processed foods, grains, and other sugary things, they began suffering from decay and tooth loss. According to the U.S. Public Health Service, 98 out of every 100 Americans suffer from some form of dental disease. The American Dental Association (ADA) says that the average 20 year old American already has 14 decayed, filled, or missing teeth.
So, can you be immune to cavities or is your dental health based on your diet? We’ll explore this, and the many other factors in cavity prevention.
Most People Don’t Know when they have a cavity
Are you having a difficult time enjoying dinner with your family lately, or even coffee breaks at work? Is it because of a pesky dental pain that’s particularly noticeable when you have meals or even drinks? Heightened sensitivity, much less tooth pain, is a common indicator that yu may be forming a cavity. Cavities are incredibly common. So much so that the vast majority of adults in America, and nearly one third of school aged children, are likely to struggle with them.
Fortunately, there is still good news. You can live a life without decay, even if you have weak enamel. If you are diagnosed with caries or a cavity, your dentist could likely help to restore your comfort quickly, with a dental filling!
Five Common Causes of Cavities
The majority of us have had several cavities filled over the course of our lifetime. Yet your spouse, friend, or family member will always receive a good report at the dentist. There are many factors that can cause davities:
We don’t often think about our spit, but it serves several important purposes. In addition to aiding proper digestion, saliva keeps the mouth moist. It also counteracts the acid produced by plaque and tartar. Some individuals have saliva that is more basic. In fact, the more basic the saliva, the more effective it is for tooth remineralization. As a result, these patients have a naturally reduced risk for cavity formation. Allergy medications will also affect dental health because they often cause dry mouth.
Cavities form due to excessive acid in the oral environment. Virtually everyone has oral bacteria that can produce acids. It’s the amount of harmful bacteria that really influences the likelihood of tooth decay. Those with a higher concentration of bacteria tend to develop cavities more readily.
Dental plaque feeds off of sugars and starches. If food or drinks high in sugar are not routinely removed from your tooth surfaces, bacteria will multiply, leading to further issues. It’s best to consume these foods in moderation and practice healthy hygiene habits on a daily basis.
As is the case with many medical and dental issues, family history plays a major role in the development of tooth decay. This could be because you are genetically prone to weaker tooth enamel or thinner enamel. This is why many diligent patients still develop cavities, despite proper brushing and flossing.
#5: Frequency of eating
Some might be surprised that frequent eating causes cavities. In fact, it is the primary cause of cavities. It is the regular feeding of the oral bacteria that really overwhelms the cavity fighting strength of saliva.
Tips for Cavity Prevention
Whether you’re prone to cavities or not, it’s important to give yourself the best chance for optimal, long-term oral health. Here are a few tips and tricks for preventing cavities:
- Rinse your mouth out with water after eating or drinking. Drinking water will wash away sugars and starches, keeping bacteria at bay until you can brush your teeth.
- Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. Be sure you brush for at least two minutes each time.
- Clean between your teeth with floss every day. While floss can works for most patients, some may require floss threaders, proxy brushes, or other interdental cleaners, when cleaning. Ask your dentist or hygienist for recommendations.
- Attend regular dental checkups and cleanings. This helps keep harmful microbes and bacteria at bay, and prevents serious oral health issues from developing.
- Ask your dentist about topical fluoride treatments. Fluoride actively remineralizes the enamel, making the teeth strong and resilient against cavities. Bottled water is usually not fortified with fluoride.
- To prevent tooth decay consider dental sealants. Easy to apply, dental sealants are like raincoats for your teeth. They protect deep grooves in the chewing surfaces from trapping food, debris, and bacteria. As a result, the chance for cavities is reduced.
- Talk to your dentist about cavity prevention. Sometimes certain medical conditions can dry out your mouth, making cavities more likely. Your dentist can recommend customized treatments, including special mouth rinses or antibiotics, to help you reduce the risk for tooth decay.
Learn more about cavity prevention
We are equipped to meet most of your dental care needs. We are proud to serve the metropolitan Chicago area, including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs. To schedule a consultation or dental visit, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.