Waterford, MI Dentist
Lloyd H. Alpert, D.D.S.
4025 Highland Road
Waterford, MI 48328
(248) 682-6010

Posts for: August, 2016

Why Some Are More Prone to Cavities

Eliminating plaque can help prevent cavities.

The world is full of inconsistencies. One of the biggest inconsistencies that we see in the dental office is the disparity in the amount of tooth decay between family members. One member of a family may be haunted by decay while another can eat and drink to his heart's content, never brush and never have to make an appointment for dental restorations after he gets dental cleanings. It is all so unfair!

To begin decay, one must have four essential ingredients. They are: the tooth, germs (plaque), food for the germs, and time of exposure. If any of these is missing there is no decay. Sugar, or food for the germs, will not cause decay on its own. For instance, if you put a tooth into a bag of sugar, nothing would happen to the tooth. Of the four decay-causing ingredients, plaque is the most important to eliminate. Plaque is a sticky mass of germs that adheres to the tooth's surface. Good brushing and flossing removes the plaque; this is most critical step to decreasing decay.

Everything we eat and drink is also food for the germs that inhabit our mouth. Chewing and saliva break down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars, which in turn feed the bacteria. The germs do not actually eat your tooth. The bacteria digest the sugars creating and excreting acid. The acid dissolves, or decays, the enamel and the root surface of the tooth forming what is commonly called a cavity. To top it off, the bacteria love living in an acidic environment.

One way to break the cycle is to do what dental professionals have been saying for years, brush your teeth and floss. This breaks up the bacterial colonies and removes them from the tooth surface. Two or three germs will not cause a cavity. But two or three germs can multiply and become organized into a "germ city" in order to create enough acid to do damage to the tooth. So it's important to disturb the colonies and remove as much bacteria as possible as often as possible.

The type of bacteria is the confounding element in the disparity of decay rates between family members. Let's say that there are 10 different germs (out of over 400 different germs that live in the mouth) that cause cavities. If we have two brothers and they both have the same number of germs in their mouths, say 100, the brother with a majority of germs at the top of the list will have more cavities than the brother that has a majority of germs at the bottom. The first brother has a bigger challenge. He must be more meticulous with brushing and flossing and may need to incorporate more complicated dental hygiene measures into his daily care than the second brother. Talk to your dental care professional about fluoride supplements and special mouthwashes.

While it isn't fair that one sibling has this problem and another doesn't, it just proves that each person is his own organism. The brother with more decay may be smarter or have better luck with the ladies. It all eventually evens out.


During all of the "Back to School" hustle and bustle, don't let your kids' oral health slip between the cracks! Make sure you add your kids' next cleanings to your list.  Beat the stress of scheduling around school and work schedules by making their appointments now. We look forward to hearing from you today!

History of Toothbrushes

Toothbrushing tools date back to 3500-3000 BC when the Babylonians and the Egyptians made a brush by fraying the end of a twig. Tombs of the ancient Egyptians have been found containing toothsticks alongside their owners. Around 1600BC, the Chinese developed “chewing sticks” which were made from aromatic tree twigs to freshen breath.

The Chinese are believed to have invented the first natural bristle toothbrush made from the bristles from pigs' necks in the 15th century, with the bristles attached to a bone or bamboo handle. When it was brought from China to Europe, this design was adapted and often used softer horsehairs which many Europeans preferred. Other designs in Europe used feathers.

The first toothbrush of a more modern design was made by William Addis in England around 1780 – the handle was carved from cattle bone and the brush portion was still made from swine bristles. In 1844, the first 3-row bristle brush was designed.

Natural bristles were the only source of bristles until Du Pont invented nylon. The invention of nylon started the development of the truly modern toothbrush in 1938, and by the 1950s softer nylon bristles were being made, as people preferred these. The first electric toothbrush was made in 1939 and the first electric toothbrush in the US was the Broxodent in 1960.

Today, both manual and electric toothbrushes come in many shapes and sizes and are typically made of plastic molded handles and nylon bristles. The most recent toothbrush models include handles that are straight, angled, curved, and contoured with grips and soft rubber areas to make them easier to hold and use. Toothbrush bristles are usually synthetic and range from very soft to soft in texture, although harder bristle versions are available. Toothbrush heads range from very small for young children to larger sizes for older children and adults and come in a variety of shapes such as rectangular, oblong, oval and almost round.

The basic fundamentals have not changed since the times of the Egyptians and Babylonians – a handle to grip, and a bristle-like feature with which to clean the teeth. Over its long history, the toothbrush has evolved to become a scientifically designed tool using modern ergonomic designs and safe and hygienic materials that benefit us all.

History of Toothpastes

Egyptians are believed to have started using a paste to clean their teeth around 5000BC, before toothbrushes were invented. Ancient Greeks and Romans are known to have used toothpastes, and people in China and India first used toothpaste around 500BC.

Ancient toothpastes were used to treat some of the same concerns that we have today – keeping teeth and gums clean, whitening teeth and freshening breath. The ingredients of ancient toothpastes were however very different and varied. Ingredients used included a powder of ox hooves', ashes and burnt eggshells that was combined with pumice. The Greeks and Romans favored more abrasiveness and their toothpaste ingredients included crushed bones and oyster shells. The Romans added more flavoring to help with bad breath, as well as powdered charcoal and bark. The Chinese used a wide variety of substances in toothpastes over time that have included ginseng, herbal mints and salt.

The development of toothpastes in more modern times started in the 1800s. Early versions contained soap and in the 1850s chalk was included. Betel nut was included in toothpaste in England in the 1800s, and in the 1860s a home encyclopedia described a home-made toothpaste that used ground charcoal.

Prior to the 1850s, 'toothpastes' were usually powders. During the 1850s, a new toothpaste in a jar called a Crème Dentifrice was developed and in 1873 Colgate started the mass production of toothpaste in jars. Colgate introduced its toothpaste in a tube similar to modern-day toothpaste tubes in the 1890s.

Until after 1945, toothpastes contained soap. After that time, soap was replaced by other ingredients to make the paste into a smooth paste or emulsion - such as sodium lauryl sulphate, a common ingredient in present-day toothpaste.

In the second half of the twentieth century modern toothpastes were developed to help prevent or treat specific diseases and conditions such as tooth sensitivity. Fluoride toothpastes to help prevent decay were introduced in 1914. Toothpastes with very low abrasiveness were also developed and helped prevent the problems caused by overzealous brushing.

The most recent advances in toothpastes have included the development of whitening toothpastes, and toothpaste containing Triclosan which provides extra protection against caries, gum disease, plaque, calculus and bad breath.

Toothpastes today typically contain fluoride, coloring, flavoring, sweetener, as well as ingredients that make the toothpaste a smooth paste, foam and stay moist. Individual toothpastes also may contain special ingredients, such as triclosan in Colgate Total. Toothpaste in tubes is used throughout the world and has been a very successful invention.

Article Courtesy of Colgate




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