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Did you know…

…tooth decay (dental caries) continues to be the most common chronic disease in both adults and children in the United States, according to the latest study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)? Ninety-two percent of adults age 20-64 have had tooth decay. Children age 2-11 have a 42% incidence and 59% of teens age 12-19 have had tooth decay in their permanent teeth.

…tooth decay is second only to the common cold as the most prevalent disease in humans?

…that too many missing teeth, lost due to tooth decay, was the most common reason for draft rejection in World War II?

…it wasn’t until the 1970’s that tooth decay was determined to be caused by bacteria?

…over 200-300 different kinds of bacteria are present in the adult mouth? Although only a few types of bacteria cause tooth decay, they form complex biofilms that coat tooth surfaces.

…tooth decay can be “caught”? An exchange of saliva from one mouth to another can transmit the decay-causing bacteria. Kissing, sharing eating utensils or anything that has had contact with saliva can be a mode of bacterial transfer.

…acids produced by the bacteria attack tooth enamel? When your natural tooth structure is damaged it will need to be restored and will require additional maintenance over your lifetime.

…tooth decay only becomes painful when the cavity extends close to the tooth pulp where the tooth’s nerve supply is located?

…detecting early signs of tooth enamel demineralization, or breakdown, the application of fluoride and use of antimicrobial solutions can help stop the progression towards tooth decay?

…your level of risk for developing tooth decay can be measured by screening for certain habits and behaviors, and testing your saliva for the presence of certain bacterial species and pH?

We hope you learned some facts about tooth decay. For a disease that is largely preventable, take steps to discover your level of risk for tooth decay at your next visit. Ask about CAMBRA – Caries Management by Risk Assessment – now a part of the patient-centered preventive care at New Hampshire Center for Comprehensive Dentistry. Discuss prevention and treatment recommendations with your dentist and dental hygienist to help you create a healthy smile and stay cavity-free.