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                                                        DR. DAN PETERSON

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Cavities left neglected can lead to root canals, infection, permanent destruction of tooth surfaces, even loss of teeth and poor health!

Dental caries is a chronic infectious disease.@
Tooth decay is a bacterial disease+

What is tooth decay?

    Tooth decay is the disease that is not life threatening and the good news is that it is preventable! 


Few people view decay for what it is - a chronic infectious disease.

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What causes tooth decay?

    It occurs when your teeth are frequently exposed to foods containing carbohydrates such as starches and sugars like soda pop, candy, cake and even sticky fruits. T

     Cavities have been identified as a bacterial infection caused by specific bacterial*. Bacteria inhabit the plaque and form up to 500 different products including acid  Plaque interacts with food deposits on your teeth to produce acid that will slowly dissolve the calcium in your teeth, the surface of the tooth..."enamel" is 97% calcium, causing tooth decay and some of the other products cause gum disease and bad breath.. The bacteria that causes decay is know as  Streptococcus mutans. Because the acidic plaque rests against the tooth, the acid dissolves the calcium molecules from the tooth surface. When enough calcium dissolves from the tooth surfaces, the surface breaks and forms a hole. That is how cavities form.  An active lesion demineralizes the tooth and can be diagnosed based upon color, surface texture and x-rays.  White spots can be active lesions if they are not glossy, and feel rough to the explorer placed parallel to the tooth.

A cavitiy starts as a "white spot" on the tooth surface

     An area of decay may take as long as 6-8 years  or as short as 6 months to dissolve the outer layer (enamel) of the tooth.  If you have a "cavity" this outer layer has collapsed producing a hole that cannot repair itself

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How to make a cavity:

Click above to see decay process


Don't brush or floss so bacteria can make acid which causes calcium loss from the enamel of your teeth


Eat foods with sugar between meals which produces acid for 20 minutes.  Just think of the bacteria count of your mouth after three meals, that can equal 60 minutes of acid production a day!  Try  drinking  three pops and 3 cups of coffee/tea with sugar between those meal and you will have 180 min of acid production


Don't drink water with fluoride or use any dental products with fluoride


Snack on foods and drinks high sugar and acid to feed the bacteria in your mouth and decrease your saliva production


Smoke a pack of cigarettes a day

Click here to find the three elements needed for tooth decay!

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Who gets cavities?

     We are all at risk because of the bacteria in our mouths.  But people who eat diets high in sugar, drink unfluoridated water, have dry mouths, take different medications; who have a lot of fillings and who don't brush often are more at risk for cavities.  However, children and senior citizens are the highest risk group for cavities.  Decay that is unique to adults are: 

bulletRoot cavities-As you age, your gums can recede, leaving parts of your tooth root exposed. Since there is no enamel covering your tooth roots, these exposed areas easily decay. Most people over 60 have root cavities as a result of gum disease
bulletRepeated decay around existing fillings-Decay can form around existing fillings and crowns.  This is because these areas are not as smooth as a natural tooth surface and can decay easier.
bulletCavities from dry mouth-dry mouth is a present due to a decrease in saliva. 

Cavity Formation Signs and Symptoms Self-Test

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What areas are likely to decay?




Teeth next to each other because this area is hard to clean




Fissures in the "chewing" (occlusal) surface of teeth


Gum line

Cavities along gum line and on root surfaces

Decay Potential of Certain Foods


(picture courtesy of University of Florida College of Dentistry)

Please don't let this happen to your child!
PLEASE don't let this happen to you are your child

  The longer you wait to have a tooth treated the more intensive, lengthy and costly the treatment will be.

Abscess Self Test

Cavity Prevention News

Sodium Bicarbonate and Hydrogen Peroxide: The Effect on the Growth of Streptococcus mutans

 This  experiment studied the effects of sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide on the cariogenic bacteria Streptococcus mutans through analysis with a spectrophotometer. The growth of S. mutans was analyzed using seven different environments. Twelve wells in each of the seven rows of a multi-well plate were used to incubate the test materials. In combinations of 10 l distilled water, 100 l broth, 10 l 10% sucrose, 10 l S. mutans, 10 l 10% sodium bicarbonate, and 10 l 3% hydrogen peroxide, seven different environments were created for testing. Environments had either sodium bicarbonate or hydrogen peroxide with S. mutans, or a
combination of sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide with S. mutans. The plate was incubated at 37C and measured at 0, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, and 42 hours by optical density with a spectrophotometer.

Results showed bacterial growth was prevented by sodium bicarbonate, hydrogen peroxide, and the combination of sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide. Although hydrogen peroxide is bacteriocidal and sodium bicarbonate is bacteriostatic, there were no significant differences among the three treatment groups in spectrophotometer readings at any of the nine readings over 42 hours.

There was no significant difference among the effects of hydrogen peroxide, sodium bicarbonate, or the sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide combination, as measured by optical density. The hydrogen peroxide, sodium bicarbonate, and the sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide combination prevented bacterial growth of S. mutans. The results show that products containing these agents have
the ability to stop the growth of S. mutans. Products containing sodium bicarbonate and/or hydrogen peroxide may be useful to caries- prone patients. More studies are needed to confirm these results on patients.

Author(s): Kelly J Silhacek RDH, BS ; Kristin R Taake RDH, BS Source: Journal of Dental Hygiene      Volume: 79 Number: 4 Page: 7
Publisher: American Dental Hygienists' Association

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Given the high risk of bias in the available studies and lack of consistency between different outcome measures, there is no reliable evidence that application of ozone gas to the surface of decayed teeth stops or reverses the decay process. There is a fundamental need for more evidence of appropriate rigor and quality before the use of ozone can be accepted into mainstream primary dental care or can be considered a viable alternative to current methods for the management and treatment of dental caries.

Citation: Rickard GD, Richardson R, Johnson T, McColl D, Hooper L. Ozone therapy for the treatment of dental caries (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 3, 2004. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd


Tooth Pain Guide: click on "For The Patient" and than on "Tooth Pain Guide".


According to Lexi COmp's Drug book written by the Pharm Dept at BCDS Pen V K is still the drug of choice for dental infections.

*J of  Practical Hygiene 2004; 13(2)]

+ADA, Academy of Pediatrics...., Dentistry Today pg 38 September 2003

@Caries Preventive Knowledge and Practices Among Dental Hygienists. Abstract of national study, J Dent Res, 77:123 (JL Forrest, AM Horowitz, Y Shmuely, 1997)

Picture courtesy of Dentalcare.

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PLEASE NOTE: The information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only.  It is not intended and should not be construed as the delivery of dental/medical care and is not a substitute for personal hands on dental/medical attention, diagnosis or treatment.  Persons requiring diagnosis, treatment, or with specific questions are urged to contact your family dental/health care provider for appropriate care.
This site is privately and personally sponsored, funded and supported by Dr. Peterson.  We have no outside funding.
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