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TOOTH DECAY

March 14th, 2013

It is estimated that in New York State approximately 50% of children experience tooth decay by the third grade and 45% of adults aged 35 to 44 have lost one or more teeth to tooth decay or periodontal disease.  How can this be?  We know the causes of dental disease and the procedures to prevent it.
Carbohydrates (sugars) in the diet react with bacterial plaque on the teeth to produce acids.  The acids weaken and eventually dissolve tooth structure, causing decay.  In adults, the bacteria produce toxins that destroy the fibers that attach the teeth to the gums, causing gum disease.
What to do?  Well, the most obvious is to remove the bacterial plaque from the equation.  Brushing for 2 minutes 2 or 3 times a day and flossing once a day removes the plaque and prevents the damage.  Limiting the frequency of carbohydrate intake will feed the bacteria less often, resulting in less attack on the structure of the teeth.
Additionally, adding fluoride to the mix will help re-harden the surfaces of the teeth which may have been slightly weakened.  The fluoride in most toothpastes will do the job nicely if given the chance.
If you are still getting new areas of decay, check with your dental staff.  They can help you improve your prevention and stop the problem.
There are still more ways to fight decay.  Do you have dry mouth?  This can contribute to increased decay levels and there are a number of helpful agents to combat this condition.  The addition of xylitol products can also help to stop the harmful bacteria in your mouth from destroying tooth structure.  Make sure you have a plan for your dental health.

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