Dental Caries

Dr. Matt here.  What is Dental Caries?  Dental caries is tooth decay. Specific bacteria (Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus, lactobacilli and more) on the tooth surface feed on carbohydrates and make acids as waste products.  Acids travel into the tooth and dissolve out minerals.  If mineral loss is not halted or reversed a cavity is formed.  Dental caries is a transmissible bacterial infection.  Transmissibility can be stopped by the use of Xylitol a naturally occurring alcohol sugar in the form of toothpastes, mints, candies, rinses and many other forms.  Right now my personal favorite xylitol hard candy is the brand Ice Chips made in Yelm Washington. We recommend kids up to age 6 brush with xylitol toothgel by SPRY.

You can get it on the Net or at health food stores.  Many other types are main stream and can be found at Target and Safeway. Transmissibility is how you get a cold through casual contact, so it may be shocking to know that your sitter might be giving your kids pathogens that cause cavities. Crazy.  Mineral loss can be controlled using calcium paste in trays or rub on.  The brand that I like right now is MI Paste.  You put a pea size amount on your finger while you are laying in bed rub it onto your teeth, move it around with your tongue and you can swallow it.  Think of it as night cream for your teeth.  If you need more fluoride in the teeth there is prescription strength toothpaste which can be used in combination with calcium paste.  So get diagnosed.  Kids can have extra fluoride in drops and tablet prescription. Teeth should feel smooth like glass not rough like wood.  If you reverse the woody feeling soon enough a hole may be prevented.  Yes prevented.  Some people are in a high risk group for decay and others are low risk.  Decay or no Decay is a balance “The Caries Balance”.  Think about a teeter totter. On one side you have protective factors like: saliva flow and its components, brushing/flossing/irrigating, Phosphate, Calcium, and Fluoride remineralization, and antibacterials like chlorhexidine,xylitol.  On the other end you have Pathological factors: acid producing bacteria, frequent eating/drinking of fermentable carbohydrates, poor oral hygiene practices and sub-normal saliva flow, function.  It is a balance of Caries – No Caries.  Dental Caries is a Disease process and drilling does not fix the disease.

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