Tooth decay is a bacterial infection that is both transmissible and preventable.
While a healthy smile is on everyone’s wish list, the unfortunate reality is that there are a number of common issues that can have a serious impact on one’s teeth and gums. One of the most common oral health problems is tooth decay. Also known as the caries infection, tooth decay is caused by bacteria that attack the enamel of the teeth and cause holes to form. These holes are known as cavities. If left untreated, it can cause further health concerns and pain over time. Interestingly, the caries infection is transmissible — read on to find out how you could be passing harmful bacteria on to your children and other family members and what you can do to stop it in its tracks.
Cavities are transmissible
The bacteria that cause cavities to form in the teeth are transmissible — this means that they can pass from one person to another. In fact, harmful oral bacteria are often introduced to a child at a very young age by a primary caregiver. It can occur by means of kissing, sharing utensils, drinking from the same cup, and other forms of saliva exchange. When cavity-causing bacteria is introduced to your child’s mouth, they can continue to multiply and grow until there is an imbalance in the oral environment. It can lead to tooth decay which can cause the teeth serious damage.
Bacteria cause cavities
Every time you eat or drink something that contains sugar, the bacteria in your mouth use that sugar to produce lactic acid. This lactic acid wears away at the enamel, softening and eroding it gradually over time. If these harmful bacteria are left in the mouth and not removed with regular brushing, they will continue to produce acid and cause further damage to the infected tooth before moving on to other teeth. If the growth of bacteria is not managed or controlled, you will likely experience cavity after cavity, which will require frequent dental treatments.
Oral bacteria can cause other health issues
Harmful oral bacteria can cause serious damage to the teeth, but this, unfortunately, may not be the extent of the effect on your health. In fact, research suggests that the bacteria that cause cavities can also have other detrimental effects on one’s overall wellness. These bacteria, for example, reduce the body’s capacity to produce nitric oxide, a substance that helps keep the blood vessels healthy. They also contribute to the formation and build-up of plaque in the arteries, which increase one’s risk of heart attack and stroke.
Cavities can be prevented
The good news is that tooth decay is a preventable condition. The best way to keep harmful bacteria under control in the mouth is to practice proper oral hygiene on a daily basis. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing daily.
It is also advisable that you see your dentist for regular check-ups and cleans so that any potential problems can be identified and resolved as soon as possible.
You might also consider preventative treatments like dental sealants and topical fluoride applications, which help prevent cavities from forming in the teeth.
How can we help?
At Elite Dental of Staten Island, we encourage all of our patients to take good care of their teeth and gums every day and to come in and see us regularly. We offer a range of wellness and prevention services and understand that there is an important connection between oral and general health.
To find out more about our range of services, please have a look here.
If you would like to arrange an appointment, please give us a call at (718) 370 1200 or get in touch with us here.