Caries – or tooth decay – is one of the most prevalent health problems around. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US cites that a large percentage of children – particularly among the lower income families suffer from tooth decay. Dental caries is not only common among children however, as susceptibility to the disease increases with age.
Tooth decay happens when there is a demineralization of the tooth enamel. If overlooked, the problem can worsen and will lead to infection and decay. Demineralization begins with the consumption of sugar and starch. These simple carbohydrates can cling on tooth surfaces and overtime, bacteria in the mouth will feed on these and multiply.
Fortunately, dental caries is preventable and early detection, management, and treatment can do wonders. But sadly, and as alluded to by the CDC, those in the lower strata doesn’t have access to dental care.
Preventing Tooth Decay There are three methods promoted to caries control and prevention. First is through fluoride use, second is through sealants, and third is through behavior modification.
Fluoride. Fluoride is believed to help reduce demineralization and encourages the remineralization of early decay. Experts also suggest that fluoride in toothpaste is the most effective and brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste can control the early onset of damage. Adding fluoride to drinking water is also advocated as it can easily be accessed by lower income families. But this may prove to be damaging in the long run as excess fluoride can cause other health problems.
Sealants. The application of plastic coatings to the surfaces of molar and premolar teeth are also advised and has proven to be effective in curtailing dental caries.
Behavior Modification. While fluoride and sealants may be successful in combating caries, behavior modification among high-risk populations should also be considered and may prove to be further valuable.
These are low-cost, and relatively safer than fluoride supplements. Behavior modification includes oral health education and teaching children the proper way of toothbrushing. Children, teens, and the adult population should also learn how to control their appetite for sugar-laden food and sodas. Overconsumption of sugar is related to a host of other health problems thus reducing – or completely taking it off the grocery list has benefits to your complete health.
Tooth decay is a painful disease that can be easily prevented and monitored. Dental checkups are encouraged but if regular visits to the dentist aren’t feasible, then basic knowledge on oral health care coupled with good diet should be enough.