Why Do I Have Tooth Decay?
4 “Whys” & 5 “Solutions”

Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS     Nutritional Periodontist
October 17, 2016   [printfriendly]

why-do-i-have-tooth-decayBeing a periodontist, my patients come to see me for gum problems. However, they often ask me, “Why do I have tooth decay?” Here are some specific facts about tooth decay:

  • Tooth decay is the most common infectious disease known to modern civilization. HERE.
  • Our human species evolved for about 2.5 million years with little or no tooth decay. HERE.
  • Many people who brush and floss daily still have tooth decay. HERE.


4 “Whys”

  1. Free sugars feed unhealthy mouth bacteria.
  2. These unhealthy bacteria overgrow around teeth and produce acids that cause tooth decay.
  3. You may not be cleaning your mouth properly. Therefore, you may not be removing unhealthy clumps of bacteria from around your teeth.
  4. You may not be eating a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet, which would support your healthy mouth bacteria and would provide essential nutrients to strengthen your immune system and your teeth.


5 “Solutions”

  1. Eliminate (or drastically reduce) free sugars from your diet. Free sugars consist of sugars added to foods plus those sugars naturally present in syrups, fruit juices, and concentrates. Free sugars are the primary cause of tooth decay. HERE.
  2. Schedule an appointment with a dental hygienist to have a professional and thorough dental cleaning. This will remove harmful clumps of bacteria and calcified bacteria called dental tartar (dental calculus) from around your teeth. A cleaning like this will give you a clean and fresh start moving forward.
  3. Understand the importance of dental plaque. Dental plaque is a complex community of microbes that attaches to your teeth at the gum line. Dental plaque is not a bad thing. Healthy dental plaque plays an important role by fighting bad bacteria, remineralizing the tooth surface, and keeping acid levels stable. Your goal should not be to prevent healthy plaque from forming. However, free sugars feed certain bacteria in dental plaque and allow them to overgrow and become bad players.
  4. Learn how to effectively clean your teeth. Unhealthy plaque must be removed. Most patients I see think they are cleaning their teeth properly. But, when I show them how to do it correctly, they realize they were not doing a good job. I have written about how to clean your teeth HERE.
  5. Educate yourself about a healthy diet. A nutrient-dense diet will provide all the elements necessary to keep your teeth and immune system strong. I have written about nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diets HERE.


My Closing Thoughts

Free sugars cause tooth decay. They must be eliminated or greatly reduced. It is important to eat foods that support levels of healthy bacteria.


Much of the bacteria in your mouth serve an important purpose. You do not want to kill all bacteria in your mouth indiscriminately. However, it is important to remove unhealthy clumps of bacteria from around your teeth by cleaning your mouth properly.


Now you should be able to answer your question, “Why do I have tooth decay?” If you understand and follow my 5 solutions above, you will prevent tooth decay. The World Health Organization published a paper in 2015 about the horrors of free sugar in the human diet. You may find it informative. HERE.


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