What causes cavities? – Mel Rosenberg

What causes cavities? – Mel Rosenberg

When a team of archaeologists
recently came across some 15,000 year-old human remains, they made an interesting discovery. The teeth of those ancient humans
were riddled with holes. Their cavities were caused by the same
thing that still plagues us today, specific tiny microbes
that live in our mouths. These microbes are with us
soon after birth. We typically pick them up as babies
from our mothers’ mouths. And as our teeth erupt, they naturally begin to accumulate
communities of bacteria. Depending on what we eat, and specifically how much sugar
we consume, certain microbes can overpopulate
and cause cavities. Diets high in sugary foods cause
an explosion of bacteria called mutans streptococci
in our mouths. Like humans, these microorganisms
love sugar, using it as a molecular building block
and energy source. As they consume it, the bacteria generate byproducts
in the form of acids, such as lactic acid. Mutans streptococci are resistant
to this acid, but unfortunately, our teeth aren’t. While each human tooth is coated
in a hardy, protective layer of enamel, it’s no match for acid. That degrades the armor over time,
leaching away its calcium minerals. Gradually, acid wears down a pathway
for bacteria into the tooth’s secondary layer
called the dentin. Since blood vessels and nerves
in our teeth are enclosed deep within, at this stage, the expanding cavity
doesn’t hurt. But if the damage extends
beyond the dentin, the bacterial invasion progresses causing excruciating pain
as the nerves become exposed. Without treatment, the whole tooth
may become infected and require removal all due to those sugar-loving bacteria. The more sugar our food contains, the more our teeth are put at risk. Those cavemen would hardly
have indulged in sugary treats, however, so what caused their cavities? In meat-heavy diets, there would have
been a low-risk of cavities developing because lean meat
contains very little sugar, but that’s not all our early human
ancestors ate. Cavemen would also have consumed
root vegetables, nuts, and grains, all of which contain carbohydrates. When exposed to enzymes in the saliva, carbohydrates get broken down
into simpler sugars, which can become the fodder
for those ravenous mouth bacteria. So while ancient humans did eat
less sugar compared to us, their teeth were still exposed to sugars. That doesn’t mean they were unable
to treat their cavities, though. Archaeological remains show that
about 14,000 years ago, humans were already using sharpened flint
to remove bits of rotten teeth. Ancient humans even made
rudimentary drills to smooth out the rough holes left behind and beeswax to plug cavities,
like modern-day fillings. Today, we have much more sophisticated
techniques and tools, which is fortunate because we also need
to contend with our more damaging, sugar-guzzling ways. After the Industrial Revolution,
the human incidence of cavities surged because suddenly
we had technological advances that made refined sugar cheaper
and accessible. Today, an incredible 92% of American
adults have had cavities in their teeth. Some people are more susceptible
to cavities due to genes that may cause certain weaknesses,
like softer enamel, but for most, high sugar consumption
is to blame. However, we have developed other ways
of minimizing cavities besides reducing our intake of sugar
and starch. In most toothpastes
and many water supplies, we use tiny amounts of fluoride. That strengthens teeth and encourages
the growth of enamel crystals that build up a tooth’s defenses
against acid. When cavities do develop, we use tooth fillings to fill
and close off the infected area, preventing them from getting worse. The best way to avoid a cavity
is still cutting down on sugar intake and practicing good oral hygiene to get rid of the bacteria
and their food sources. That includes regular tooth brushing, flossing, and avoiding sugary, starchy, and sticky foods that cling to your teeth
between meals. Gradually, the population of sugar-loving
microbes in your mouth will decline. Unlike the cavemen of yesteryear, today we have the knowledge required
to avert a cavity calamity. We just need to use it.

100 thoughts on “What causes cavities? – Mel Rosenberg

  1. Ha ha ha … when you are genetically prepared to cavities and have a very pleasant mouth-bed for infections nothing works believe me … tooth brushing becomes just a matter of hygiene and nothing else …

  2. Incredible TED Talk!!! I love this! I actually made a video talking about natural ways to heal cavities on my channel a couple days to go & I should have mentioned this video! 👏🏻

  3. I went to the dentist yesterday and they put 2 silver and took out all of my teeth that were lose!😖 but they gave me a drink to make me fall asleep so i dont fill the pain it was scary but im ok im watching the video at 5:45 and Hmm.. having water cause its heathy :3

  4. I have this one cavity in my mouth that keeps coming back no matter how much I brush and floss, I don’t know what to do and my moms going to yell at me if it stays

  5. it's so hard nowadays to find foods low in processed sugars that it pisses me off. we blame individuals for not cutting down on sugar when we really need to put pressure on big companies to stop loading their food products with sugar.

    I’m not going next weekend
    Cus he just crossed TA LINEEE
    To far dad.., >:(

  7. During my 1st time in the dentist
    Me – finishes tooth checkup
    Dentist – congrats on 1st time dentist have a candy

  8. Sugar is highly addictive arghh! But then again, in this capitalist society, food manufacturers need to make money and then dentists make money from fillings. It's all about money!

  9. I always loved candy but at 26 years old I had to remove 3 teeth and 4 wisdom .. so a total of 7 teeth.

    Super sad face! My mom bought me all the candy I wanted.

  10. My Three year old is showing signs of decay, My wife's idea of diluting juices and giving him in a bottle was not the best of ideas.

  11. I obviously didn’t read all 1800 comments, but the few I did read nobody mentioned the video promoting fluoride use when fluoride is a Huge Calcifier of the Pineal Gland. The pineal gland is Essential for our ability to Love and also to Awaken!
    So I gave it a thumbs down – other than that, Sugar being the Main Source for the Cause of cavities was Right On! Cute Video Animation!
    **I guess I learned a valuable lesson about my personal beliefs that TedTx info is likely ‘gospel’. Now I know, they aren’t Always.
    Perhap no source is … Except for our Creator Source – Of Course! 😉😊
    Namaste one & All

  12. Flouride is not good for you, period. And it will not save your teeth. That part of the video is misinformation at it's finest.

  13. Wow I have been alive for 12 years haven’t had pop in 7 years used to drink 8 pops a day still eat alot of sugar and still no cavities

  14. I'm surprised they didn't mention anything about tooth sealants–my teeth were covered when I was six and, fourteen years later, I still haven't had any cavities.

  15. Cavities sucks kids! Go brush your teeth at least twice a day. Toothaches = Drilling pain 😰🙅🏻

  16. i got my very "weak" set of teeth from my dad! 😵 i started developing cavities when i was 5 which gave me REALLY painful toothaches growing up. Just simply excruciating times. i got 3 molars extracted by the time i was 10 and got another 3 filled in recently and now my wisdom teeth is bothering me once again. Ugh!

  17. I had a cavity and the filling fell out Few months later was eating a potpie and the tooth broke in half. Still waiting for it to fall out.

  18. Medieval digs show peasant population with good teeth . theu would use grounded salt to brush their teeth with twigs and use spices for a better smelling breath but nobles would often consumed more sugar and would use more spice then salt and their tooth brushing, resulting in the poor having better teeth then the rich.

  19. i have two tiny brown spots on the top of my back molar and they don’t go away when brushing, so i’m not sure if it’s a cavity or not.. help needed please 😂

  20. So many people here commenting that they only brush their teeth once a week. Ew, it's a wonder you don't already have cavities or your teeth aren't falling out. I have to brush my teeth every time I eat because I have braces.

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