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When Will Cavities Become a Thing of The Past?

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Orthodontists are known to work on the alignment of teeth and specialize in this form of dentistry to prevent cavity development. Cavity prevention is a universal standard that the dentistry field constantly invests in, and this concept has become our primary goal for helping patients receive better oral health treatment. Cavities have mostly been controlled, but striving to improve our treatment field is what we as healthcare professionals work towards. In cavity prevention, some new research has surfaced to help us further understand the role bacteria have in the mouth and how science can be used to prevent cavities once and for all.

What Dentists Know About Cavity Development

As the rate of cavity development continues to decrease, there’s still so much to learn about the Streptococcus mutans bacteria and how it causes cavities. According to today’s statistics, over 90% of adults over the age of 20 have had at least one cavity during childhood. There’s still much to understand about this bacteria, how it impacts the mouth’s microenvironment, and how people can better improve their oral health to remove this bacteria for good.

We can track the changes that occur in the mouth due to the presence of this bacteria. When uncontrolled, this bacteria causes cavities through these steps:

  • White Spots Formations: De-mineralization of the enamel, also known as white spot lesions, are often caused by the overuse of fluoride, but in cases where it develops due to poor oral habits, it’s often one of the earliest signs of cavity development.

  • Enamel Wear-down: Once the enamel begins to wear down, the enamel becomes greatly exposed to bacteria growth within the enamel’s crevices and develops discoloration.

  • Dentin Decay: Once the bacteria reaches past the enamel, it begins to infest at the dentin layer, which causes the tooth to become highly sensitive.

  • Pulp Infections: If the bacteria reaches the pulp, the pulp can become highly infected, causing tissue pain to radiate throughout the mouth, which can only be treated by a root canal procedure.

  • Formation of Abscesses: This dangerous pocket of bacteria can eventually lead to the destruction of the mouth tissues and jawline, causing severe damage.

The Streptococcus mutans bacteria is the culprit of cavities, and our current measures against this bacteria only work towards preventing this bacteria from developing and doesn’t necessarily stop it completely. Currently, tooth cleanings, root canal treatments, and extractions are our basic methods, but finding new ways to treat the infection is what we’re here for.

What Research Offers For Treatment

Our complex ecosystem contains over 7000 species of bacteria, with the majority of that bacteria contributing towards breaking down and dissolving foods. Some of the latest developments in dentistry have developed ways of potentially tackling this strain for good. Research from a clinical study reported from the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry has developed a ‘cerium oxide nanoparticle solution” that reduces the biofilm produced by this bacteria by 40%. With this new solution in development, dentists can hopefully have a step forward in cavity treatment.


Dr. Karmen Massih Inspired by orthodontics at the age of 10, Dr. Karmen Massih earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine at UCLA's School of Dentistry. After earning her certificates in orthodontics at the University of Pittsburgh, she returned to her hometown of Glendale, CA, to begin Massih Orthodontics, a practice dedicated to transforming smiles for people of all ages.