Cavities are a Travesty
Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is a serious health problem that is preventable. Certain oral bacteria discharge mineral-eroding acid onto the enamel, starting the gradual process of decay. Over the last several decades, dental researchers have made tremendous progress in defining and learning to thwart the decay process. This work has involved the three-pronged strategy of discovery, treatment, and prevention.
- Few people were spared the ordeal of losing teeth, often early in life. The combination of tooth decay and periodontal diseases left 17 million people age 45 and older — about three out of 10 Americans — with none of their natural teeth. In fact, the most common cause of WWII draft rejection was too few teeth because of tooth decay. Until the 1970s, the cause of tooth decay continued to be a subject of debate, with some believing dietary deficiencies were the culprit and others focusing on oral bacteria. This uncertainty made effective prevention strategies difficult to create. Moreover, brushing one's teeth each day was a fairly recent hygienic step forward in dental care, reportedly popularized by returning soldiers from World War II.
- The NIH completed the first water fluoridation study that established the benefits of fluoride in fighting tooth decay. Several years would pass before fluoride, a large part of modern prevention strategies, would become a common ingredient in water, toothpaste, and other products.
- Diet has been a prevention strategy too little emphasized; Dr. Patel maintains that diet control is the most effective way of preventing dental decay. Studies performed in Sweden many years ago categorically proved that frequency of sugar intake was by far the most important factor in getting decay. i.e sugar in between meals causes decay.