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The Science of Dental Decay


The Science of Dental Decay

Streptococcus mutans is an agent of destruction for healthy teeth because it converts sugar into enamel-eating, decay-causing acid.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s, dental decay was widespread in the U.S. During a regular dentist visit, the question wasn’t whether you had a cavity or not, but how many cavities did you have? Scientists and dentists in the past knew that cavities were caused from plaque but did not know how to manage its’ negative effects on the teeth. This is where the “drill and fill” method of dental care began. While this treatment method is still needed today, we know more about dental decay and can prevent its occurrence.

Decay is caused by specific bacteria Streptococci Mutans (MS) and is an infectious disease with a cavity being the last step of the process. Through extensive research, we have discovered decay is caused by many factors and is reversible in the early stages. Sugar, saliva, and fluoride levels are considered, as well as, past medical and dental history. Children between the ages of six (6) months and thirty (30) months may become infected by salivary exchange of their caretakers. It is medically and financially effective to diagnose those patients who are at greater risk and develop a preventive plan.