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Tooth decay (also called dental cavities or dental caries) –  The destruction of the surfaces (dentin and/or enamel) of a tooth and infiltration of bacteria into tooth structure. Tooth decay results from the action of bacteria that live in plaque. Plaque is a sticky, whitish film formed by bacteria and food debris which adheres to the pellicle (a protein layer on the tooth surface). The plaque bacteria sticking to tooth enamel breakdown the sugar and starch from food particles in the mouth to produce acid.

Only Cake, Candy, and  Sugary Drinks Cause Tooth Decay.

Myth, but it’s almost a fact.

Guess what sugar is? You guessed it a carbohydrate. White rice, french fries, bagels, chips and fruits are all carbohydrates. The stickier the carb, like white rice, caramel, or fruit gummies, the longer they stay lodged between teeth and stuck in grooves. The truth is that the acid produced by the bacteria while breaking down carbohydrates is what causes tooth decay. The bacteria makes the acid when you eat anything with carbohydrates that stick and stay on your teeth. The resulting acid melts through the strong outer enamel and allows bacteria to enter into the inner layer (dentin). The bacteria are not visible to the eye, and the breakdown is slow and steady forming a hole, better known as a cavity.

An important fact to know: It is not the amount of carbohydrates you consume that end up causing tooth decay, but the length of time your teeth are exposed. If you eat a high amount of carbohydrates for lunch, that’s one big exposure. But if you spend the day sipping sugary drinks, chewing on gummy bears, sucking on tic tacs, that continuous exposure is far more unhealthy for your teeth. Dentists have a saying, “sip all day and get tooth decay“.

All Dental Restorations Need to be Replaced Every Few Years.


An amalgam or composite filling needs to be replaced only if it breaks down or a cavity forms around it, or if the tooth breaks or fractures. If none of those problems occur, you can keep the same filling for quite a long time. Most dental restorations do have a life expectancy but it depends on each individual. Tooth wear due to clenching or grinding, diet, and dental hygiene habits,  play a huge role in how long these restorations last, some last more than 50 years! Maintaining proper oral hygiene and maintenance  will help your dental restorations last longer.

Once You Get a Tooth Capped, the Tooth Can’t Decay.


A Cap or a crown covers and protects underlying tooth structure. However, the area where the crown edge ends and tooth is not covered ( the margin), is where bacteria like to stick. It is the least smooth part of the tooth, and where bacteria can break the seal between the tooth and crown. Once the seal breaks, bacteria can move up and under the crown to slowly breakdown tooth and root structure. A dentist always checks margins around teeth to try to find breaks in margins, however, when breakdown occurs in between teeth it is harder to detect and  usually decays much further before it can be detected on an x-ray.

When You get a Root Canal, the Roots are Removed and the Tooth Can’t Decay.


A root canal treatment does not remove roots, what is removed are the nerves, blood vessels, bacteria, and debris from inside of the roots. The dentist then fills and seals the roots with a rubbery filling and sealing paste. This prevents bacteria from re-entering a tooth. Once the root canal is completed, the tooth should heal, and usually be covered and protected with a crown to help prevent cracking. Tooth decay can happen, just as in any tooth.

Children are more prone to Tooth Decay than Adults.


Advances in pediatric dentistry have allowed us to cut childhood tooth decay in half over the last 20 years. These advances include sealants, fluoridated water, dietary consultations, and preventive care. As we see advances in pediatric dentistry, and decreases in tooth decay a different population has had increases in tooth decay. Seniors have an increase in cavities due to an increase in advances in pharmacology, limited dexterity, insufficient professional cleanings, and dry mouth. Many medications have a side effect of causing dry mouth which increases the risk of tooth decay.

If You Have Tooth Decay, You Can Feel it.


Tooth decay may or may not cause any symptoms. Everyone and each individual tooth varies in it’s pain threshold. The pain associated with tooth decay may be detected very early in some and when it is in a more advanced stage and is actually causing damage to the nerve in others. Allowing tooth decay to progress untreated can and will lead to much more expensive and extensive dental procedures, like root canals and oral surgery. That’s why regular dental examinations are so important.

Teeth can only repair themselves when initial enamel breakdown is occurring, and the bacteria have not entered the dentin. Some enamel can repair with natural calcium remineralization and some can harden and repair with fluoride . Persistent bacteria will cause a cavity to forms which will continue to grow and progress into the tooth, eventually working its way into the dentin and then the nerve of the tooth.

Cavities Are More Likely Between Teeth.


Any place in the mouth where you cannot reach and bacteria can hide is a place for tooth decay to form. That is why brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial and fluoride rinse (such as Purple Listerine) are so important. They allow you to reach areas brushing alone cannot. Flossing is one of the few ways to get in between teeth and properly avoid tooth decay between teeth.

Chips and Cracks in Teeth Lead to Decay.


Cracks and chips in teeth can create a hiding place for bacteria and make those areas more prone to tooth decay. Using a fluoride rinse can reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Sensitive Teeth Means You Have Decay.


Tooth sensitivity could just mean you have hypersensitive teeth, or gum recession has exposed some root.

You could also have a cracked or broken tooth or could need a root canal. There are many things, including tooth decay, that could lead to sensitive teeth. If your teeth are sensitive you should schedule a dental examination to make sure it is not something serious.

Cavities Are the Only Reason for Root Canals.


Root Canal treatment is caused by a variety of things including tooth decay. Root canal treatment is needed if the nerve inside a tooth is damaged which can be a result of decay or trauma.  Trauma can result from accidents, grinding, clenching, biting into a very hard object (piercings, hard candy, etc.), ice chewing, etc.

You Don’t Need to Worry About Cavities in Baby Teeth.


Baby teeth are needed to hold the space for permanent teeth. Also, tooth decay in baby teeth can develop into serious pain, dental abscess and serious infection. On occasion the infection can spread to other parts of the body and has even caused death if left untreated.

Brushing, Flossing, and Rinsing and a Healthy Diet Is the Best Way to Prevent Cavities.


Definitely. Preventive dentistry is the key to staying cavity free. The bacteria must be removed from the teeth.

Brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, and floss and rinse daily. Antimicrobial rinses target bacteria, reducing plaque, bad breath, and the severity of gingivitis. Rinses with fluoride make teeth more resistant to tooth decay. If bacteria are removed daily from every area of your tooth. Eat healthy foods, and limit exposure to carbohydrates.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

There are many misconceptions about what causes tooth decay and what doesn’t. The facts remain, A healthy diet, and proper oral hygiene will not only help you prevent tooth decay, but keep your whole body healthier.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (formerly nursing caries) - is a dental condition that occurs in children between 12 months and 3 years of age as a result of being given a

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Marielaina Perrone DDS

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Can Be Prevented

bottle at bedtime, or at will breast feeding, resulting in prolonged exposure of the teeth to milk or juice. Caries are formed because pools of milk or juice in the mouth break down to lactic acid and other decay-causing substances. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay preventive measures include elimination of the bedtime feeding or substitution of water for milk or juice in the nighttime bottle, scheduled nursing, wiping out the mouth with a wash cloth, and following feedings with water.

We all want what is best for our children and that includes making them happy. Parents hate to see their baby cry for any reason especially at bedtime. But did you know feeding a child at bedtime or even through the night can create dental havoc for them?

Even though baby teeth are temporary in nature, your children’s baby teeth are important for many years, and are still susceptible to tooth decay. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, or Early Childhood Caries. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and for a cosmetically pleasing smile. Their first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth come in correctly. It’s important to start infants off with good oral care to help protect their future teeth for decades to come.

What Happens In Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay usually affects the upper front teeth, but other teeth can also be affected. There are a variety of reasons which can cause baby bottle tooth decay. One common cause is the frequent, continuous exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar. Milk contains natural sugar, called lactose, but even though it is natural it is still sugar, so staying in the mouth without cleanup will form acid which leads to decay . Baby bottle tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby. While milk contains some natural sugar, juice is primarily sugar. A baby requires milk, while juice is completely unnecessary. Most sugary drinks that parents give their children, are things that they think will taste good, but not what a baby needs. Milk and water to drink and fruit to eat, is the best way to incorporate the healthy attributes of nutrition without making our children prone to sugar causing tooth decay.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Marielaina Perrone DDS

Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a disease that can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. These bacteria are passed through the saliva. When the mother puts the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth, or cleans a pacifier in her mouth, the bacteria can be passed to the baby. However, this only puts a child at higher risk, proper hygiene and nutrition will negate those effects. The earlier you start with sugar, the more addicted to sweets your child will be. They can not make the right choices yet, you have to do it for them.

If your infant or toddler does not receive an adequate amount of fluoride in their water, they may also have an increased risk for tooth decay in their developing teeth. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable with proper oral hygiene practices.

Tips to Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

-Do not share feeding spoons with baby or lick their pacifier. After each feeding for your infant, exercise good oral hygiene by wiping your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or even a washcloth, or give them some water to drink..

-Schedule visit to dentist by age 1. This can be a purely educational visit as you learn what needs to be done to protect their teeth as they come in, and make it fun.

-When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and water or a childrens’ toothpaste without fluoride. Talk to your child’s dentist or physician if you are considering using fluoride toothpaste before age 2. Generally, fluoride is not recommended until a child will swish and spit, and not swallow the toothpaste.

-Brush the teeth with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste from the ages of 2 to 6. Most kids are not able to properly brush on their own. Parents need to brush for them, and then let them try at the end. Young children will try, but do not do a thorough job.

-Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to spit and not swallow toothpaste. By about age 7 ,most kids are able to brush properly on their own.Pediatric Dentistry Marielaina Perrone DDS

-Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.

-Infants should finish their bedtime and nap time bottles before going to bed.

-If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean. DO NOT dip it in sugar or honey.

-Encourage your child to drink from a cup by their first birthday.

-Encourage healthy eating habits.

Conclusion To Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

It is important to get children started on a path to good health. This includes practicing good dental hygiene. Schedule a dental visit for your child by age 1 or when the first tooth appears. For most this first dental visit is a well check and more about education than treatment. Oral care, when started early, will be a fun time for the two of you for years to come. You are the role model, so be encouraging, and they will develop your good habits.