Every year research continues tackling dentistry’s most troubling conditions. Even after decades of modern research and treatment techniques, cavities continue to be a serious problem for dental patients all over the globe. Ongoing research provides us with an ever-increasing understanding of the underlying mechanics of cavity creation, but we have yet to reveal a way to get rid of them completely. However, there’s still hope for the future! Recent developments in dental technologies have provided new options for preventing the development of cavities! This new technology may be our first step on the way to a future that’s cavity-free!
What We Know About The Development of Cavities
While our current body of knowledge is extensive, especially when compared to our understanding even a few decades ago, there’s still a lot to learn. One of the most important discoveries made about cavities is the primary culprit in their development. Streptococcus mutans is known to be the bacteria most closely associated with conditions that lead to the demineralization of our enamel and the cavities that follow. With this discovery, we also learned that our mouths contain a complex ecology of hundreds of different bacteria species, many of which are actually beneficial to our overall health. Dental science has also created a clear understanding of the mechanical formation of cavities:
- Lesion Formations: Commonly formed by demineralization, white spots appearing on the enamel of otherwise healthy teeth is a warning sign all may not be well. These spots can also be caused by overfluoridation, but decay is far more common.
- Enamel Degradation: If the loss of minerals from enamel is allowed to continue, the enamel will begin to develop the pitting known as cavities. If unaddressed, this pitting will lead to full-blown cavities that penetrate the enamel and expose dentin.
- Dentin Decay: Dentin is porous and significantly more sensitive than the harder enamel that protects it. Once cavities have reached this depth, decay can advance much more quickly, and dental sensitivity often begins to appear.
- Pulp Infections: After penetrating the enamel and dentin, the bacteria responsible for tooth decay will have access to the fleshy pulp inside the tooth. Infections in the pulp can be excruciatingly painful and will need dedicated dental care.
- Abscess formation: Abscesses are pockets of pus and infection that form deep within the gums and at the root of the teeth. These pustules can have detrimental effects on the overall health of the gums, jawbone and can even be deadly.
The above effects are all the result of the mutans bacteria. There are no techniques available to directly attack this culprit that doesn’t also have detrimental effects on the good bacteria that occupy our mouths. The role they play in our overall health is too important to salt the earth to get rid of the mutans bacteria. So what are we to do?
How Cavities May Become A Thing Of The Past
So with the current state of dental science, how is a future without cavities possible? Recent developments reported in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry have revealed the creation of a special solution that shows the potential to reduce the presence of mutans bacteria. Even more excitingly, it has demonstrated the ability to prevent the formation of plaque and tartar by 40%! It’s not the total removal of the threat, but it is a great step in that direction.