Can tooth decay be prevented? Of course, it can. In order to do this, you must understand how it occurs in the first place. Tooth decay or dental caries as you might come across in literature occurs when the enamel is damaged or eroded. The enamel is the hard, white looking part of your teeth. It took a very long time before the real causes of tooth decay were finally established.
Cultural Background Of Tooth Decay
Before we continue, let us look a little at some cultural backgrounds when dental health is concerned. Cultural backgrounds, diet and many other social factors affect dental health for sure. I guess it depends on who you ask or who carried out survey or research. There have been conflicting reports as to which country has the best teeth in the world. According to a research conducted between 2000 and 2016, Japan takes the lead probably because they have around 200,000 dentists. Another report claimed the US to be the country with the lowest rate of dental decay followed by countries like Canada, Sweden, Germany, Norway while India, Singapore and Saudi Arabia are among the countries with the highest rates.
When you look at the data above, you immediately see that the leaders in dental health care are the developed countries. Now let us go to another part of the world, Africa. Africans are known to have healthy looking white teeth even without advanced health care services as we have in the much industrialized world. Unfortunately, there have been reports of increased rates of Caries in Africa. Why is this so? This is where we come to one of the biggest culprits of tooth decay – diet! We will look at this later but now let us check the statistics.
Statistics Related To Dental Caries
Obviously, the countries with the best dental health care services also have the least rate of dental diseases. According to the World Health Organization, oral diseases are now a burden to many countries around the world with Africa taking the hardest blow.
Countries With Best Dental Care
- Japan – refer to the above data. Japan has over 200,000 dental health care professionals.
- United States Of America
- South Korea
Counties With The Poorest Oral Health Care
- Philippines – There is a report that about 97% of Philippine children under the age of 6 suffer from caries.
Tooth Decay By Age In The US
In the US, the National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey published a report of researches carries out between 2005 and 2008. The result shown in the table illustrates a distribution of tooth decay by age.
|Age In Years||Percentage Of Untreated Dental Caries||Percentage Of Dental Restoration|
|5 – 11||20.4||38.7|
|12 – 19||13.3||52.0|
|20 – 44||25.1||79.2|
|45 – 64||21.6||91.5|
|65 – 74||19.6||88.2|
|75 And Over||20.2||89.0|
Diet as you know plays a very important role in every aspect of human health. This is the same with dental health. The food we eat can also determine how healthy our teeth are.
The Causes Of Tooth Decay
Now that we have talked about the cultural background as well as the distribution of teeth caries around the world, let us now get down to business and look at the reason why a person can develop tooth caries.
A tooth will decay if it is infested by bacteria which produce acid. The acid that the bacteria produce starts to erode the enamel of the teeth. The most vulnerable teeth are those whose enamel is deficient in fluoride. Fluoride can prevent and destroy tooth decay, but little can be done once the teeth have started to decay.
People who love to eat sugary food such as candies and soda are very susceptible to developing dental caries. If the sugar and other food residue get caught within the teeth, a sort of chemical process starts, boosted by the bacteria to produce the acid that breaks the enamel. Now you see why brushing your teeth after every meal is important.
Poor Dental Hygiene
If you have not been maintaining a good dental hygiene, of course, you will suffer from one type of dental disease or another. Not taking good care of your teeth will allow the build-up of tartar and plaque around your teeth and that will go on to make tooth decay a faster process. You see, the mouth is full of billions and billions of bacteria but the ones of interest at this point are those that release acid that causes decay. These acid causing bacteria can be transmitted from person to person through the use of the same drinking glass, eating and through oral contact like kissing for instance.
Eating Snacks Frequently
This is a habit that many people will identify with including the author of this article. You just can’t resist that urge to continually chew on snacks no matter at what time or where. Well, this may be bad news. Yes, the sugar contained in those candy and chocolate snacks are converted to acid by the bacteria in your mouth and so decay can begin. We have mentioned sugar in this article I can’t remember how many times. This is that you should stay away from sugar as much as possible if your dental health means anything to you. If you can’t do that, then you will have to be brushing your teeth several times a day.
The Process Of Tooth Caries
The Image Above Shows The Progression Of Tooth Decay
The formation and development of dental decay takes place in stages. The slowest stage is when the decay appears and starts to eat away at the enamel. In fact, this is the stage to best start to contain this terrible dental disease. It can take up to 3 years before the decay gets to the second layer of enamel and that is when the spread is faster on its way towards the pulp which is the most vulnerable part of the tooth.
There is a form of tooth decay that is slower though. That is what dentists call “The Smooth Decay”. Smooth or not smooth, decay is not something to play with. The pulp is very sensitive because it contains blood supply and nerves. This is when you start to experience considerable pain.
1. Decay appears on the enamel
2. Takes 2 – 3 years to get to the second layer of enamel (the dentin)
3. Takes about a year to reach the pulp
4. Once it reaches the pulp, the destruction of the tooth is just a matter of months or even weeks.
Other Types Of Dental Caries
Pit Or Fissure Decay – Having tooth decay is bad enough but there are still the ones that are bit more serious. Pit decay which may also be called fissure decay. It is mostly found in the chewing area of your molars. Its progression is much faster. As a result of the narrow grooves, it is difficult to clean your teeth without the intervention of a trained dental specialist.
Root Decay – This kind of decay as the name implies is localized to the root of the tooth. You will find this kind of dental disease with people in their middle ages. This is extremely difficult to prevent. That is why it is considered the worst kind of tooth decay. It develops so fast that the only option is to get the tooth removed immediately.
The Final Words
This is by no means the final words when we talk about dental or oral health. We are just about to round up this article with the hope that you have benefited something out of it. To me personally, the best healthy saying is “Prevention Is Better Than Cure”. There is nothing that beats this. In order to save yourself of unnecessary headaches, you should always strife to prevent rather than seeking treatment afterwards.
This goes also with root decay. You should always strife to maintain good dental health, stay away from things that have the potential to jeopardize your well-being and of course make sure you keep a regular visit to your dentists.
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