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Reasons for tooth decay

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Cavities, also called tooth decay or carries, are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks, and not cleaning your teeth.  

Tooth decay begins with a group of germs called mutans streptococcus.  The bacteria feed on sugar and produce acid that eats away at the structure of teeth by depleting calcium.  The bacteria also creates plaque that builds up on teeth and contains even more eroding acid.  

Babies are born without any of these harmful bacteria in their mouth. Studies have proven that parents typically infect their children before age 2.  This happens when saliva is transferred to a child's mouth.  Sharing food, drinks, and tooth brushes can cause the transfer of bacteria.  Some bacteria is worse then other and may explain why some people get cavities while others do not.

Regardless of family history or bacteria present in the mouth, it is extremely important to brush, floss and use fluoride.  It is also extremely important to see a dentist early. A good relationship can help prevent decay and catch dental problems early. About 40% of 2 to 5 year olds have cavities. Pediatric dentists recommend regular check ups to identify decay and other dental conditions before they cause troubling problems. The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of preventing progression.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Association recommends your child see a dentist by his/her first birthday.