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

Posts for tag: Bacteria

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.




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