Wednesday, 13 May 2015
NEARLY ALL AMERICANS HAVE CAVITIES
Virtually all American adults have tooth decay, and more than a quarter have cavities that have not been treated. By the time they hit 65, 96 percent of Americans have tooth decay. It is not what they are doing wrong. It is maybe what they can do better. A lot has to do with access to dentists. People without health insurance coverage for dental care, or living in areas where dentists are not common, are more likely to have tooth decay, and far more likely to go without fillings. About 19 percent of people 65 and over have no teeth at all. This rises to 26 percent of people 75 and older.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children in the U.S., five times as common as asthma. Caries, which comes from the Latin word for "rotten", is caused mostly by bacteria reacting with sugar in the mouth. They produce acid that leaches minerals from the teeth and weakens them. So it's an infectious disease — one that stays with people for life. Plus there is a genetic susceptibility to developing tooth decay. Fluoride helps slow this loss of minerals and greatly reduces rates of tooth decay.
Although most Americans have tooth decay, the situation is far improved from past generations. Toothbrushing, fluoridation and better dental care have all helped.