The Fascinating History of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a common dental issue that has been around for a very long time. Historically, tooth decay was thought to be the result of an evil tooth worm that gnawed holes into the tooth enamel. Today, however, we know that tooth decay is largely caused by improper oral hygiene habits which allow the bacteria in our mouths to fester and become plaque or tartar. Here are some interesting facts about the history of tooth decay, and an insight into where we are now with preventative tooth care:

Tooth decay was considered unrepairable.

Until the 1970s, the cause of tooth decay continued to be a subject of debate, with some believing dietary deficiencies were the issue. It was difficult to come up with a preventative strategy when few people could agree on the cause of tooth decay. Additionally, brushing your teeth regularly was not a normal thing to do until it was popularized by returning soldiers from World War II. In fact, the most common cause of the soldier’s being rejected from the draft was due to tooth loss from tooth decay.

American children now have less tooth decay than prior generations.

Today, tooth decay is no longer the epidemic that it was for previous generations. Once we discovered the source of tooth decay, preventative care became the number one way that dentists helped their patients avoid the consequences. The use of fluorides in toothpaste wildly improved at-home dental care. This has given patients a good chance of retaining their natural teeth for a lifetime. It is estimated that from 1979 through 1989 alone, the American population saved more than $39 billion in dental procedures due to preventative care promotion.

Technology is helping prevent future tooth decay.

Dental research is developing imaging tools that can detect the earliest signs of tooth decay.  These tools will give dentists the chance to remineralize the tooth and reverse early decay before it begins affecting the tooth’s overall structure. Additionally, research on bacteria now allows scientists to identify specific genes essential to the tooth decay process. It is very likely that this research will eventually allow dentists to directly target these genes and inactivate the ability of these bacteria to grow and cause tooth decay.

Schedule An Appointment

The best way to prevent tooth decay right now is to schedule regular appointments with your dentist. If you are looking for a trusted dentist in Laurel, MD, schedule an appointment online with our highly-trained doctors. We look forward to helping you fight against tooth decay.