In a dentist’s office, “tooth decay” is one of the last phrases you want to hear. This oral health condition affects over 90% of American adults over the age of 40. In addition, 25% of children ages 2 and 5, and 50% of kids and teens between ages 12 and 15 have tooth decay. Cavities are a beginning stage of tooth decay and, if not properly addressed, it can escalate quickly. Keep reading for a few unusual facts about tooth decay and how to avoid it.
3 Unusual Facts About Tooth Decay
1. It is One of the Most Common Diseases
Affecting millions of Americans every year, tooth decay has climbed the ranks to become the 2nd most common disease. With the common cold holding 1st place, tooth decay is different, as it doesn’t go away on its own. You can avoid tooth decay. However, once it has infected one or more teeth, you must see a dentist to treat it.
2. Babies “Catch” It
Tooth decay is a common health condition found in babies. While babies aren’t born with teeth – or the bacteria in the mouth that cause tooth decay – it can reach them through saliva. The saliva transfer usually comes from mothers and other family members in close contact with the baby.
3. It Can Cause Death
In extreme and rare cases, tooth decay can cause death. When the oral infection is affecting the upper back tooth and left untreated for enough time, it may spread to the sinus behind the eye. It may then progress into the brain, causing death. Although tooth decay can become deadly with neglect, that extreme case is rare. Treatment for tooth decay is easy to access and very effective.
Avoiding Tooth Decay 101
The body produces saliva for several reasons, one of them being as a countermeasure to tooth decay. Saliva contains natural chemicals that neutralize the acids in your mouth, starving off the harmful bacteria that create cases of tooth decay. Here are some tricks to strengthen your saliva production and avoid tooth decay.
- Chew sugarless gum between meals to increase saliva production
- Use prescribed varnishes to protect teeth from decay
- Brush and floss twice a day with fluoride-based toothpaste
- Correctly rinse
- Stay hydrated with water and sugar-free drinks
- Schedule biannual dentist checkups
- Avoid sugary, carb-based foods and drinks
Avoiding Tooth Decay in Babies
Yes, as stated above, babies can get tooth decay. The bacteria is transmitted through the saliva of a parent, loved one, or caretaker. Babies may also develop tooth decay from sugar found in breast milk, formula, and juice. The sugar mixes with the baby’s saliva to form pools in the mouth, where it may then lead to the early decay of the primary teeth. This can also affect the adult teeth behind them. To protect your baby from tooth decay, avoid putting them to sleep with a bottle to nurse on. That would allow a sugar and saliva combination to sit on the gums and teeth. In addition, perform the appropriate oral hygiene procedure for your baby. This includes rubbing a wet washcloth on the gum line daily. Next, when primary teeth appear, transition into brushing them with a soft bristle toothbrush and a rice-grain-sized squeeze of fluoride toothpaste.
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