Most of the most common and best advice from dentists is worth repeating. And repeating. And repeating. And … well, I don’t have to write “repeating” again, do I? So, today I’ll yet again revisit a previous blog topic: Cavities. Or, as is known to dentists … caries.
It wasn’t so ago that two young people arrived at my office for an initial visit. Although not every new patient has a perfect mouth, these two had an inordinate number of cavities. Each had 19. Wow! It’s not a record, but for two teenagers today, that’s quite a large number.
With more than a dozen untreated cavities each, they are an example of how poor oral care – the main culprit here – and a lack of dental service can spell potential doom for these young people’s smiles. You couldn’t tell the problem by each smile, but it wouldn’t be long before they’d be a “before” photo in some some dentist’s book.
Most of their cavities were not major – that is they were not at a severe stage – but, given that the patients were each 18 years old, both faced severe tooth loss if they did not get the cavities repaired and begin a consistent regimen of brushing and flossing.
The teenagers’ cases make an interesting point:
It is a time when just about everyone should be seeing fewer cavities. Why?
- Because of the availability of oral care (a tootbrush, toothpaste and floss are inexpensive)
- The ease of brushing and flossing at home daily (you have the time; but also you just have do it)
- The advantage of fluoride in many products (yes, including tap water! … and I won’t go into the fluoride controversy today)
Still, dentists continue to see an increase in the number of cavities in young people. The CDC reported in 2010 that inadequate brushing and the consumption of juices was causing the number of cavities to rise in young patients and there’s not reason not to believe the trend has continued.
Part of that trend includes the effects of the consumption of not just sugary juices and sodas, but also some sports drinks. While a sports drink may appear as being – or be marketed to appear as being – part of a workout or athletic event (or you simply just like the taste), they can have a lot of sugar or, in the absence of sugar, have contents that are acidic in nature. Soda can be acidic whether or not it has sugar.
All of that can lead to one dental issue: cavities.
Both of the young people in our office appeared to have bright, white and healthy smiles. They are both engaging teenagers and when they smiled you wouldn’t know how anything could be wrong. However, it will not be long before each has to face the very real threat of tooth loss or a treatment regimen consisting of root canals and crowns – going to much worse if they get to the point were extractions are needed and a replacement denture necessary.
I’m not trying to scare anyone, least of all young patients, but the fact remains that untreated dental problems will become much bigger in the future. Problems do not heal themselves – and as a manner of financial fact, only become more expensive as you go along.
So, the next lesson here is that you need to see a dentist for regular check-ups as well as having a professional cleaning at least twice a year. Finally, if your dentist tells you that a problem exists, then take care of the issue. The longer you let any oral problem linger, the worse it will become – and, I have to write one more time, more expensive to treat.