An apple a day keeps the dentist and doctor away is a saying that most Millennials and Baby Boomers have heard at some point during their lives. However, come to find out an apple a day may, in fact, require the need for most individuals to see the dentist even sooner than expected. Due to the sugars found in apples, teeth are just as much at risk if candy or soft drinks were consumed instead. Dental caries (also known as tooth decay or cavities) happens when the bacteria responsible for dental caries is present on the surface of a tooth have access to fermentable carbohydrates (sugars) and a significant amount of time passes between proper dental hygiene practices.
The bacteria that are believed to be responsible for causing dental caries are Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus. These bacteria thrive in the biofilm or dental plaque that should be removed during proper dental hygiene, but when in the presence of dietary sugars, these dental plaque bacteria create high levels of lactic acid when fermenting the sugars. This acid breaks down the enamel of the tooth, which protects the root and nerve, causing dental caries that need to be filled to prevent any further decay.
Top Causes of Dental Caries
- Poor dental hygiene- Infrequent or improper brushing and flossing put individuals at a higher risk for developing dental caries.
- Tooth structure and enamel makeup- based purely on genetics, some people have deeper tooth crevices and weak enamel.
- Sugary foods- not only candy but fruit and juices can be damaging as well.
- Acidic foods and drinks- adding more damaging acid to the bacteria-created acid in your mouth is never a good thing.
- Dry mouth- saliva contains biological properties that help inhibit the growth of these bacteria. Dry mouth can be caused by medications, medical conditions, genetics or congestion.
If you find yourself in need of a checkup or showing symptoms of potential dental caries, get into your dentist right away to correct and prevent any further tooth decay.
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