Tooth decay is still one of the most prevalent diseases of all mankind, occurring
more often than the common cold! The causes of tooth decay have been the
subjectof intensive speculation and research for years and years.

Past and present theory suggests that causitive factors include;acids in the
mouth,dental plaque, bacteria, food debri, salivary PH, and poor oral hygiene.

Although we know little about the EXACT cause of dental disease, we do know
considerable knowledge regarding its prevention and progress.

We know that dental disease progresses at different rates in different
environments. Some individuals for a variety of reasons, experience rapid rates
of tooth decay while others may experience a very slow rate of tooth decay.

For example , in some individuals, a small cavity may not change its size for
years, while in others, an identical leasion may reach serious proportions in a
matter of months.There is no doubt that the chemistry and the composition of
the saliva play an important role in these differences.

If one’s saliva tends to be more acidic in nature, decay will more than likely
occurr more rapidly. People with less aidic saliva, appear more resistant to tooth
decay but more prone to calculus (tartar ) formation and resultant periodontal
(GUM) disease.

Poor oral hygiene permits food debri to acumulate around and between the teeth
and gum tissue. This food debri eventually begins to decompose in the mouth due
to theinteraction of the bacteria in the mouth and the salivary digetive enzymes
that are present.

The decomposing food particles form a ready-made medium for colonies of
acid- forming bacteria and contribute to the formation of dental plaque which is
considered by many authorities, to be the prime cause of dental caries and the
major irritant causing periodontal (GUM) damage. In fact, POOR ORAL HYGIENE,
with all its ramifications,is undoubtedly the most predominant cause of dental
disease.

Some individuals may have both physical and chemical properties conducive to
caries. A thick, viscous saliva retains food in the mouth and aids in forming
tacky materia-alba(a white, slimy food residue) , which sticks to the necks of
the teeth and the gum tissue margins.

On the other hand,a serous (watery-like ) saliva tends to help wash away
food debri and thus lowers the incidence of tooth decay.

Diets can be another important factor in the prevention of tooth decay and I
will discuss this topic in my next weekly blog.

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