10 Facts You Should Know About Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay.If you have ever had tooth decay, you should know:

  1. Tooth decay is one of the most common of all diseases, second only to the common cold.
  2. Tooth decay affects more than one-fourth of U.S. children ages two to five, half of those ages twelve to fifteen, and more than 90 percent of U.S. adults over age 40.
  3. Tooth decay causes pain, suffering and disability for millions of Americans each year — even more disturbing, tooth decay is preventable.
  4. If it is not treated, in extreme and rare cases tooth decay can cause death. Infection in an upper back tooth can spread to the sinus behind the eye, from which it can enter the brain and cause death.
  5. Tooth decay is an infectious process caused by acid-producing bacteria. Your risk for decay can be assessed in our office with a simple test for specific bacterial activity.
  6. Three factors are necessary for tooth decay to occur: susceptible teeth, acid producing bacteria and a diet rich in sugars and refined carbohydrates.
  7. Babies are not born with decay-causing bacteria in their mouths; they are transmitted through saliva from mothers, caregivers, or family members.
  8. Fluoride incorporated into the tooth structure protects teeth against decay by making the enamel more resistant to acid attack.
  9. Sealants — sealing the nooks and crannies in newly erupted teeth, stops bacterial collection where a toothbrush can’t reach. Teeth with sealants have been shown to remain 99 percent cavity-free over six years.
  10. Restricting sugar intake is important in preventing tooth decay: your total sugar intake should be less than 50 grams a day (about ten teaspoons) including sugars in other foods. A can of soda has up to six teaspoons of sugar — or more!

Contact our office at (248) 589-2021 to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth decay. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article Tooth Decay.

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