Tooth decay is one of the most widespread “silent” health epidemics in the United States today.
Did that get your attention?
If not, maybe some of these sobering statistics will:
- Nearly half (42%) of children ages 2-11 have developed cavities – many of which originated with baby teeth.
- 92% of U.S. adults have cavities in their permanent teeth. This statistic doesn’t account for teeth already lost or damaged because of tooth decay.
- The average U.S. adult has more than three damaged, decayed or missing teeth from tooth decay.
- More than a quarter of U.S. adults (26%) have untreated tooth decay.
Given these statistics, chances are that someone you know – a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc. – has tooth decay. And if it’s not someone you know, it’s probably you!
Dr. Dental is on the front line in the battle against tooth decay. We’ve helped thousands of patients with their oral health – and for many people, that means stopping or reversing the ravages of tooth decay.
Our dentists are often asked about tooth decay – what it is, and specifically what the main causes are. Because this is one of our most popular “FAQs,” we decided to provide more information to point out the main causes of tooth decay.
The (Sweet, Sugary) Elephant in the Room
This article will look at different causes of tooth decay other than sugar. Suffice it to say, sugar is far and away the most common culprit. From candy bars to sugary sports drinks to all kinds of sweet substances, sugar’s unique compounds, easy availability and addicting taste make it the King of Tooth Decay.
If you avoid sugary substances most of the time, and brush your teeth on a regular basis, you’ve already done the heavy lifting to avoid sugar-based tooth decay.
Let’s look at some other causes.
Tooth Decay 101
Tooth decay starts when acid in your mouth (from bacteria) starts to eat away at your teeth. Once the acid breaks down the outer layer (enamel), it moves to the remaining two layers of your teeth: the middle layer, called dentin, and the interior, which is known as the pulp.
Tooth decay severity is “grade” based on which layer is impacted; minor tooth decay is only superficial, while severe decay reaches all the way to the tooth pulp.
So what are the main causes of tooth decay, aside from sugar?
Secondary Causes of Tooth Decay
Here are some things that can cause tooth decay, sugar excluded:
- Not visiting your dentist. More than 60% of U.S. adults haven’t visited their dentist in the past year. With just one or two visits on an annual basis, tooth decay has a better chance of being detected – or outright avoided! If you haven’t been to Dr. Dental in a while, you can schedule an appointment right here.
- Not brushing or flossing regularly. Disciplined self-care is critical in the fight against tooth decay. Because it’s caused by acid buildup from bacteria, a clean mouth rarely gives the bad guys time to develop. We recommend brushing at least twice per day, and flossing at least once per day.
- Tobacco use. Cigarettes, snuff, side chew and more – if you want to avoid tooth decay, skip the tobacco. It’s as simple as that.
- Dry mouth syndrome. Saliva is an underrated anti-tooth decay agent. It helps wash away acid and bacteria. And if you don’t have enough, tooth decay is more likely to happen. A condition like xerostomia shows a strong correlation with tooth decay.
Dr. Dental is here to help you and your family with all of your oral healthcare needs. From routine cleanings to complex dental procedures, our New England-based dental network has everything you need – comprehensive services, great prices, friendly personnel, even exclusive deals and promotions.
To find a Dr. Dental office near you, click here. For more information about our network, or if you have any questions, please call our main customer service line at 877-776-9833. Thanks for visiting Dr. Dental!