Can we cure cavities?
With current research, we have the potential. Before going into how, let’s go over why it’s
important to cure cavities.
Worldwide: 60-90% of
school aged children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities. (World
Health Organization, April 2012)
From our dental team’s perspective:
We all have kids that we’d like to see have less
potential for cavities.
We like to see our work last a lot longer.
At the end of our careers, we can look back to
see we were a part of solution.
Benefits to our patients:
There are many patients that are discouraged to
seek dental care because they always previously got dental cavities. Imagine if we can brighten that outlook.
Most patient’s dental fear comes from multiple
visits to treat dental cavities. Imagine
if most visits are for cleanings and cancer screenings. Sounds refreshing!
So let’s begin our journey.
We are all born without cavity causing bacteria.
At this point, no matter how much sugar is consumed, there
is no cavity risk. Interesting? You can only get this bacteria from someone
else infected with cavity causing bacteria: usually the saliva of a parent or a
significant other. Once you get it, your
mouth allows for this bacteria to thrive.
Bacteria that causes cavities consumes sugar and converts it to
acid. The more they feed, they increase
the acidity and lower the pH in the mouth.
Once the acid strength is strong enough, calcium is removed from your
teeth. It takes 20 minutes from the time
you give this bacteria sugar to the time acid is produced.
You often hear from your dental team to brush often. It’s to deny cavity causing bacteria its
meal. Without sugar, the bacteria cannot
make acid. Also, if you are drinking and
snacking for an extended amount of time (having that coffee with cream over
several hours), the bacteria is feeding and make acid for the same amount of
time. Sticky sugary foods stay in the
mouth longer also. There are many
moments of our day that may not seem convenient to brush.
This is why it’s hard to prevent cavities. My dental team and I try our best to brush after meals, but it’s not always convenient.
So how about the cure?
New research in cavity prevention has been concentrating more on the
acidity of saliva. Here are some
Saliva of patients who has never had a cavity: less acidic and contains lots of good neutral
The neutral bacteria is the key to preventing cavities and
is absent in a patient who has cavities.
Acidic bacteria once introduced to a person thrives in the mouth and
pushes out the neutral bacteria. They continue
to produce acid with each meal; your saliva will be less and less neutral. When the acid level in the mouth hits the critical
point of pH 5.5, your teeth enamel starts to dissolve. Depends on your meals and drinks, this
destruction of tooth enamel may continue for hours. Your saliva also has protective minerals that
can help repair the damage, but it’s not possible during the times the saliva’s
pH is below 5.5.
The treatment that has been recently developed is a product
Treatment phase: Generally
3-6 months to bring the pH of affected saliva to neutral again and promote the
good bacteria to return after treatment.
Consists of a rinse and brushing in the morning, and the same at night.
ongoing to keep the saliva optimal so that acidic bacteria from taking
over again. Consists of a rinse and
brushing two times a day, just like the treatment phase.
So is the cure possible?
This is our closest step to a cure.
The main point here is keeping the main culprit (acidic bacteria) from
taking over the balance of a healthy ecosystem in the mouth. I encourage you to read this book: Balance written by Dr. V. Kim Kutsch for more
detailed information regarding current dental cavity research. It’s an easy read, and not too scientific. Please stop by our office for a free copy of