Dental cavities and tooth decay is one of the most common medical conditions experienced by Americans and the single most common disease of childhood.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 19 percent of children have untreated cavities and approximately 41 percent of children have decay in their “baby teeth.” This is a health statistic that has not improved since the 1970s and recent studies are indicting a new rise in cavities in children.
Cavities are the result of gradual tooth decay caused by the build-up of plaque and breakdown of protective enamel. Bacteria are normally present in the mouth; however, as they digest sugar and starches they produce acid, which weakens the enamel. Additionally, the bacteria and its acid mixes with food debris and saliva to form a sticky biofilm called plaque. Plaque that is not removed hardens into tarter, which can result in inflammation and gingivitis. The acid within the plaque can continue to dissolve the enamel and eventually cause pits and holes, called cavities.