Tooth Decay

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 I have had the opportunity to discuss oral hygiene with a few people who don’t brush their teeth more than once a day and never have. It turns out that their teeth are perfect and have always been cavity free. Was it a unique phenomenon or were they onto something. I have always brushed my teeth three times a day and have always had cavities and even more problems now in my adult years. I started to doubt our recommended protocol for oral hygiene and instead of going around and asking a bunch of people like I was buying a horse, I just decided to ask Google. Here is where it led me.


I asked “can I brush my teeth too much?” I found this drop down question: Is brushing your teeth three times a day too much?

Answer: Dentist Tip: Brushing three times a day is ideal. If you can brush once after every meal–breakfast, lunch, and dinner–you minimize the growth of bacteria in your mouth. But wait an hour after each meal: brushing too soon can cause damage to the enamel of your teeth. Mar 29, 2013

Of course I was immediately skeptical since it was a ‘Dentist Tip’ – the person I am paying to fix my problem teeth. So I dug further.

I asked “why do I have to brush my teeth?” I found the question: Why is brushing your teeth so important?

Answer: Daily brushing and cleaning between your teeth is important because it removes plaque. If the plaque isn’t removed, it continues to build up, feeding on the bits of food left behind and causing tooth decay and gum disease. Feb 19, 2017

So now I wanted to know more about plaque and wondered why it seemed to affect humans but not animals.

I asked “do animals get plaque on their teeth” I found the question: Do wild animals get cavities?

Answer: In humans and animals, the main cavity-causing culprit is a bacterium known as Streptococcus mutans. But because animals aren’t consuming a lot of carbohydrates, their mouths aren’t inundated with this specific bacterium. The result, then, is fewer cavities.

So there was my answer. The same thing that is causing obesity is also causing cavities, carbs! So now my opinion is that unhealthy consumption of carbohydrates leads to an over-abundance of unhealthy bacteria on one’s teeth resulting in the necessity for unhealthy hygiene practice which still leads to unhealthy teeth. If this system of brushing three times a day, after meals, worked, people would not be getting cavities, but we still do. I believe that we must be stripping off more than unhealthy bacteria, we must also be stripping healthy bacteria from our teeth. 

I asked “what is the healthy bacteria on our teeth” I found the question: Is there good bacteria in mouth?

Answer: Other bacteria actually protect our teeth and gums. There are some bacteria, however, that we’d rather do without, since they cause tooth decay and gum disease. Streptococcus mutans is the bacteria you’ve probably heard the most about. It lives in your mouth and feeds on the sugars and starches that you eat.

So yes, there are good bacteria, but they are not telling us what they are. They’ll just talk about the bad bacteria and have us spend more on oral care. It looks like there is more to discover on the topic, but so far I am convinced that we need to change not just our eating habits but also our oral care.

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