Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How Does A Cavity Happen?

Yesterday I went to the dentist. I wasn't worried because I take pretty good care of my teeth, and as a result, have never gotten a cavity. Well, as you've probably guessed, I've got one. While yes, I was pretty horrified that I am going to have to go and get a shot in my gums (I'm not too worried about the rest - it's not supposed to hurt), I really wanted to know what exactly happened in there.

Then, low and behold, in today's Biology lesson guess what I found? A little article on tooth decay! As a good homeschooler should be, I was pleased. :) I have never really known exactly how the whole cavity thing worked, and it was pretty interesting! Now that I know what exactly happens, and exactly what brushing and flossing does (although I wasn't oblivious to the reasons, I didn't know the bulk of it), I'm much more motivated to take good care of my teeth! On those nights when I just feel "too tired" to brush, or when I reach for a chocolate or candy I'll definitely be thinking twice about how I'm treating my teeth.

And now, the article I read this morning at 11:15 out loud to Creative Genius who was doing his handwriting beside me [which is half one size and half another - sorry about that. Blogger problems]...

The Life and Death of Teeth

God designed permanent teeth to last a lifetime; therefore, with proper
nutrition and good dental hygiene, your teeth can remain strong and
attractive. The ages from thirteen to eighteen are a critical time for
oral health because decay, which occurs most often during these years, causes
the permanent teeth to be damaged. Tooth decay, or dental
(commonly known as cavities), is the most common disease in
. The decay process begins when sugar mixes with plaque, a sticky, colorless film of bacteria (Streptococcus
) that is constantly forming on and between the teeth. Bacteria
in plaque break down the sugars in foods to produce energy, forming lactic acid
as a byproduct; the acid is trapped against the surface of the teeth by the
sticky plaque. (Starches such as breads and crackers can also cause tooth
decay if left in the mouth for long, because the mouth's digestive enzymes
break down the starches into sugars that the bacteria can use.) After many acid
attacks, tiny holes may be formed in the enamel, allowing the acid to attack the
much softer dentine beneath the enamel. Once the protective enamel is
penetrated, cavities may be formed relatively quickly. A toothache will
occur when the decay reaches the nerves at the core of the tooth.

It is not primarily the amount of sugars consumed which causes
dental caries, but rather how often they are consumed and how
they remain in the mouth. Each time sugar-rich foods are
consumed, more acid forms on the teeth. Sweet foods which remain in the
mouth for long periods of time - such as hard candy and sugar-sweetened chewing
gum - allow acid to remain on the teeth even longer. Sticky sweets such as
raisins and other dried fruits, mints, toffee and caramel desserts, and peanut
butter and jelly sandwiches are very harmful if they are allowed to remain on
the teeth; acid could be attacking the teeth all day long. If
sugar-sweetened soft drinks are sipped in small amounts throughout the day, the
sugars may likewise allow bacteria to attack the tooth enamel all day.

Plaque is even more harmful if allowed to remain on the teeth for
twenty-four hours; extended neglect or improper oral hygiene can result in periodontal [gum] disease. Any plaque which is not
removed by daily brushing and flossing begins to build up and form a hard
deposit called tartar (known medically as calculus). When plaque and tartar accumulate, the gums become
tender and inflamed and are likely to bleed easily when the teeth are
brushed. This periodontal disease is known as gingivitis;
if left untreated, the infection can cause periodontitis, as
disease in which the gums detach from the teeth and eventually the boned
supporting the teeth are destroyed.

Healthy teeth and gums are important for good nutrition, and good nutrition
is important for for healthy teeth and gums. A poor diet can weaken the
gums and bones which support the teeth, making them more susceptible to
periodontal disease. If sugar-rich foods are limited to mealtimes, the
saliva which is flowing readily by the end of a meal helps to dilute the acid
caused by bacteria. Brushing your teeth immediately after every meal to
remove acid-forming plaque will also help preserve your teeth from decay; loss
of teeth from periodontal disease can be prevented by regularly flossing your
teeth and visiting the dentist periodically to have any tartar buildup
removed. If you remove plaque daily, eat a balanced diet, and reduce or
eliminate the consumption of sugar between meals, your teeth can last a

Taken From Biology - God's Living Creation
Written by Gregory Parker, Keith Graham
Delores Shimmin & George Thompson
Published by A Beka Book


Grace said...

I won't tell Isaiah. He is always bragging that you have never had a cavity. I'm sorry you had to join the club.

Jennifer said...

Any mother would be proud to read a post such as this (sniff, sniff). It brings tears to my eyes that, not only are you going to be more serious about your oral health but you love biology enough to blog about it! Call me a proud mother if you will, it's true!



Hannah said...

Do you use A Beka for all of your school? We do. After trying several other curriculum's we have decided to stick with this one!
Have you thought of getting a clear, or white filling? It might be more expensive, but you don't have to get a shot. If you don't have insurance though, it will be a lot more expensive.

Have a Great day!
God Bless!


~Miss Hannah said...

Hey girly!

Sorry about you cavity! I have more than I can count, yep. I know someone who was seventeen, and they had NEVER had a cavity. I just don't have goos teeth. I have such bad teeth, I may have to get braces, much to my dismay!

I am looking forward to writing you!
In Christ,
Miss Hannah

Rachel and Jessica said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing that with us Serenity! =:) I used to not take care of my teeth so I know all about going to the dentist and cavities! I try to take MUCH better care of them now though thankfully! =;)


Lacy said...

I definitely don't enjoy cavities! They are no fun, but getting a root canal is worse. :P

I brush my teeth after every meal now though, or rather, after every time I eat or drink (anything but water), now that I have my braces, I have to!

BrioII said...

I finally got into the habit of flossing by using a Gripit Floss Holder - These handy devices keep my fingers out of my mouth when flossing. They come with their own floss supply that can be advanced in seconds and refilled from local grocery and drug store. You only need to buy one for a lifetime.