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Decay is an infection of germs (usually a streptococcus ‘strep’ germ) that use sugar to survive and produce acid that ‘eats’ through the enamel. Decay is preventable.

What about families with “soft teeth?”
Decay, like gingivitis and periodontitis, is totally preventable and has nothing to do with genetics/inherited problems.  Other than rare diseases affecting one in 100,000 people, there is no such thing as ‘soft teeth.’  Families in which many members have cavities have similar poor sugar and home care habits, not inherited bad teeth.

How can I prevent cavities?
The germs that cause cavities collect on your teeth at, and just below, the gum lines and in-between the teeth.  You have to brush at the gum lines of all of the teeth on the cheek and lip side, and also on the tongue side, twice a day. When you floss, after the floss snaps in-between your teeth, you have to scrape up and down on the teeth to clean them.  If your gums bleed when you brush and floss like this, you have the disease Gingivitis and you should see your dentist immediately.

What about sweet treats?
The sugar that causes decay is sugar that we have 1. In-between meals 2. Exposes our teeth to sugar for long periods of time and 3. That we tend to do every day.  Gum, pop, sports/energy drinks, sugar in coffee, and breath mints are what cause the most cavities. Eating dessert does not cause cavities. 

If I have a cavity problem what can I do?
Always have the sugar-free variety of pop, gum, breath mints, and coffee sweeteners.  Always brush and floss your gum lines very thoroughly. Have your teeth cleaned, fluoride treatments, exams 2x/yr and x-rays 1x/year. Use fluoride toothpaste. 

Are artificial sweeteners safe?
Yes. Go to the medical web site www.webmd.com or the American Dental Association web site www.ada.org for the truth about sweeteners.

How do I keep my kids from having cavities?
See my article in the next issue about kids and cavities.  

Click here to download this article.