If You Have A High Decay Rate


           If you have a high decay rate (also known as rampant decay), certain extra steps will need to be taken so that this condition can be controlled. Dr. McArdle defines rampant decay as when a third or more of your teeth, when you still have most of them, exhibit carious lesions ("cavities") that are visible to the naked eye when he initially examines you and when half as many more of your teeth are so decayed at subsequent examinations. Rampant decay is a serious disorder that can lead to infection, tooth loss and systemic illness.


Rampant decay of the lower front teeth.


           Tooth decay (also known as dental caries) is a bacterial phenomenon. If you have any of your natural teeth, you have bacteria in your mouth and these germs on and around your teeth digest food particles and then produce acid which erodes your teeth in a process called demineralization. Your decay rate is determined by a number of factors including your diet, the amount and intensity of decay causing bacteria in your mouth, the capacity of your saliva (spit) to neutralize acids while remineralizing your teeth, the levels of antibodies against decay causing bacteria in your saliva, the density of your teeth's enamel, the effectiveness of your home care and your level of exposure to fluoride. Certain medications or medical treatments can decrease your salivary flow and thus increase your decay rate. Some of these factors are genetic (salivary capacity, antibody level etc.) and cannot be changed while others (your diet, your home care etc.) are under your control.

           If you have a high decay rate, all those causative factors which are under your control must be optimized so that your decay rate can be reduced. This is accomplished with preventive treatment here in our office and by altering your personal habits at home. Both approaches must be used if your decay rate is to be decreased.

           Here in our office you will receive detailed instructions and demonstrations on home care including brushing, flossing, tongue cleaning and the use of oral irrigators such as the Water Pik. You will also receive advice about diet, commercially available home care products or prescriptions for certain high potency fluoride and antibacterial dentifrices (toothpastes and mouthwashes). Fluoride has the ability to harden your teeth and make them more resistant to decay through surface contact with enamel. Treatments in our office will include the use of professional strength fluoride treatments or rinses and the placement of sealants to protect the grooves found in posterior teeth that collect food particles making these areas particularly vulnerable to decay. Consultation with your physician to adjust your medications or revise your medical treatment may be needed.


           At home you must put the advice and instruction that we have given you into action. Brushing, flossing and tongue cleaning at least every night is a must and after meals is also preferable. If you have been advised to use an oral irrigator, this should be done every night as well. Any dentifrices suggested or prescribed for you must be used as directed and if you have been advised to use a fluoride rinse, you should do so as many times during the day as possible because the protective effects of fluoride on your teeth increase proportionally with the level of exposure. This is especially important if your water supply at home is not fluoridated. Diet modification is also important. The lessening of sugars, starches and carbonated beverages in your diet will help you lower your decay rate. Decay causing bacteria metabolize sugary and starchy foods (in that order) most efficiently into the acids that can rot your teeth. Carbonated beverages, even if they are sugar free, can be very corrosive to your teeth. If you doubt this, leave a chicken bone in a closed container of diet soda and see what happens.



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Dr. Barry F. McArdle, D.M.D. ~ 118 Maplewood Avenue, The Captain Moses House, Suite B-7, Portsmouth, NH 03801

Questions or Request an Appointment: Contact Us     Phone: 603-430-1010     Email: drmcardle@mcardledmd.com     Website: http://mcardledmd.com