Throughout the year, we all work to keep our teeth looking great and to keep them free from decay. With all the brushing, flossing, and mouthwash, we still end up needing the help of our dentist to keep cavities at bay. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to make tooth decay a thing of the past? An incredible discovery has shown that there may be a way to stop tooth decay forever. Tooth decay occurs due to acids from food and the action of bacteria at work in our mouth. Putting an end to decay begins with understanding these processes.
What We’ve Come To Know About Tooth Decay and Cavity Formations
Even with the depth of research that has been performed on tooth decay, there’s still plenty left to discover about how cavities form. What we are certain of is that a bacteria by the name of Streptococcus mutans is primarily responsible for the formation of all kinds of biofilm. This includes the plaque and tartar responsible for tooth decay. As the process of tooth decay advances, you’ll often observe the following steps.
- White Spots Appear: Tooth decay begins with the demineralization of the teeth with white spots that form on the teeth known as white spot lesions. There are several causes for these, including over-fluoridation, but they typically appear when cavities are starting to form.
- Enamel Degradation: As the acid produced by the bacteria continues to attack your teeth, the enamel will slowly soften and breakdown, revealing the softer dentin layer that lay underneath.
- Dentin Decay: After having broken through the hard outer layer of your teeth, the bacteria will begin to assault the yellow porous dentin material beneath. Tooth sensitivity and pain often begin to appear at this point, and decay accelerates as this softer material breaks down.
- Pulp Infections: Beneath the dentin can be found the soft fleshy pulp of your teeth. As living tissue filled with blood vessels, it’s possible for an infection to take hold here. Tooth infections in the pulp can be excruciatingly painful and may require a root canal to correct.
- Formation of Abscesses: Pustules that form in the gum line are often indicative of abscesses. These pockets of infection can lead to damage to the jawbone and degradation of the other tissues in your oral cavity.
The mutans bacteria are responsible for all of these changes. Nearly 90% of American adults have experienced a cavity before they’ve turned thirty, so why not just eliminate the bacteria that causes the bacteria? While this would be ideal, no method of eliminating the offending bacteria has been discovered that doesn’t impact the healthy bacteria that live in our mouths.
The Possibility of a Cavity-Free Future
So is the elimination of all dental decay possible? The research reported in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry reveals a cerium oxide nanoparticle solution that has shown incredible efficacy against these bacteria. In addition to battling the bacteria by making it difficult for it to adhere to the dental surface, it also eliminates up to 40% of all biofilm. This may not be a total elimination of cavities, but it’s a powerful step in the right direction.