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This article on EO Water is part of a special 5 part series by
Award Winning Dental Surgeon Dr Paul
If you get a small cavity, will it give you a tooth ache? Hardly. You probably won’t even know it’s there! Ask any parent who has ever been absolutely shocked when they took their child to the dentist for the very first time. They’re told their child has 8 cavities (more common than you might think). Cavities in children and adults just don’t tend to give any symptoms whatsoever until late in the process.
If you have teeth, today’s topic is specifically for you. It’s the modern disease of dental cavities. These are holes in teeth that shouldn’t be there (not the only holes that can happen), but these have a bacterial cause. The longer they’re left untreated, the more the tooth becomes weakened, the closer you get to death of the tooth, possible root canal, and possible tooth pulling. (ouch… costly… often preventable… and leads to more potential problems than its worth).
This whole conversation started because a person I’m calling Jenny (not her real name) asked me some questions about severe loss of tooth structure her dentist documented over a brief 6 year period. In this series we’re discovering what lead to this problem because her problem is almost certainly related to YOU and your mouth. Jenny’s dentist thought it was because she was using Electrolyzed Oxidizing (EO) water as a mouth rinse. In spite of that, she still had a few cavities that can be seen in the photos.
So in addition to trying to help our friend, Jenny, we’re going to explain the almost universal problem of cavities. This is almost exclusively a modern dietary problem that didn’t show to up to this degree in ancient populations. We’re going to combine information about Player 1 (teeth) with Player 2 (bacteria) that we learned in EO Water Part 1 and EO Water Part 2 of this series about a healthier mouth with EO water. We want to see if teeth and bacteria can play nicely or not. If you haven’t already done so, please read Part 1 and Part 2 before going on. The rest will make a lot more sense that way.
The word cavity refers to a hollow space in your tooth where it should otherwise be solid. Doesn’t sound good, and it’s not. It starts out as a very small cavity that often can’t be detected, even with the best of technology and the sharpest of eyes. It’s commonly believed that only sugar causes cavities. I’ve had strict sugar-free vegetarian patients who were shocked when I showed them 8 cavities. Have you wondered yet why I’ve twice now referred to 8 cavities, once in regard to cavities in children, and now again in regard to adults?
Plaque bacteria are always involved in cavities in teeth. If you had a sterile mouth, theoretically you could eat anything at all and never worry about cavities. But plaque is a part of our world. The bacteria are microscopic in size so by the time you see the plaque, there are millions of bacteria involved. In the image here you can easily see it because this person was horrible at taking care of their mouth. Various stages of cavities can be seen. But also notices the redness around the gums right next to the parts of the teeth covered in plaque. This is visible gum disease that is so easily preventable. We’ll talk more about that in Part 4 of this series.
If you’re out camping and forgot one, use a napkin or shirt sleeve if you have to. The stuff wipes right off. If you don’t do this a couple of times a day, you get cavities like this.
The next type of cavities have to do with the surfaces of teeth where they contact each other. These are the types of cavities shown in the image of Jenny’s teeth. Toothbrushing can’t help here because the bristles are too small to get between the teeth. This is where flossing comes in handy. If you can disturb the plaque colonies even once a day you can prevent these types of cavities.
These contact surface cavities can become extremely large before they are found. They can’t be seen at all in their small stage when normal enamel is present. The reason they’re showing in Jenny’s pictures so well is because the enamel is mostly gone. But for you, if you have normal enamel, the only way you find these when they are small cavities is by x-ray of the back teeth (bright light shining through can sometimes reveal the ones on the front teeth where the teeth are thinner).
Here is a picture of a moderate size cavity between teeth. The dentist drilled in from the biting surface because it’s the easiest access. This weakens the tooth structure, but is the best option. Obviously you want to catch these cavities before they get big. The only way to do that is periodically go to your dentist and make sure to have x-rays taken every year or two.
When you don’t catch them early, this is what it looks like. One thing to note here is that x-rays only pick up damage long after it’s already done. We almost never see small cavities on x-rays. They’re usually moderate to large by the time we see them. Again, this is because the eye can’t see these at all until they become large cavities. This tooth I’m showing here has decay that goes all the way to the center of the tooth where the pulp (living soft tissue made of blood vessels, nerves, etc.) lives in the root canal. There’s a very high chance of the pulp dying sooner or later and this tooth needing a root canal procedure. Flossing would have been cheaper by a mile.
The final general type of cavity is the one you can’t prevent by brushing, flossing, or even rinsing. It’s caused by the anatomy of the teeth themselves. These cavities occur in the natural pits and grooves of teeth. These pits and grooves are too small for the bristles of a toothbrush to get in and clean out the plaque as you can see here. Any liquid also won’t penetrate to the depth of the pit and kill the plaque.
Looks can be deceiving here too. These can look so small and innocent on the surface, but if left untreated for several months, they can literally wipe out the center of the tooth. This all happens usually without cavity pain or any other sign or symptom to you. Cavities start by the smallest of holes in the enamel surface, but once inside the enamel they hit the softer dentin. Cavities spread laterally inside in all directions.
Now I’ll explain the mystery of the 8 cavities commonly found in children and adults. This is the number of big molar teeth we have at the back of the mouth for most people (I’m not including wisdom teeth here because most of us have those removed). Children have 8 molars and adults have 8 (or 12 if you leave the wisdom teeth in). Molars have the most natural pits and grooves of any of your teeth and so they easily get cavities, even if you’re the world champion brusher, flosser, and rinser. This is how strict vegetarians still get cavities, although typically much slower than others. Cavities happen over many years in some cases and it’s a matter of judgment when you should jump in and fix them. I’m a proponent of early intervention for the pure preservation of tooth structure.
So let’s bring this back to our friend Jenny. She obviously had 3 cavities that could bee seen with the eye and they were the type that could have been prevented by perfect flossing. My experience is that most of us overestimate our “perfection” at oral hygiene. Jenny actually takes care of her mouth pretty well, and yet these cavities still happened.
Why didn’t the EO water she was rinsing with prevent these types of cavities? Because EO water kills ON CONTACT. It kills every bug on contact, but if it can’t get to specific bacteria, they will continue to thrive and possibly do damage.
You might be wondering what is the point, then, of using EO water as a mouth rinse to kill every bacteria or virus it contacts? It seems like really thorough brushing and flossing could do just as good of job on their own. They answer is… almost. EO water will definitely kill more plaque bacteria than brushing and flossing alone because of its ability to penetrate farther into the pits and grooves and contact points where bacteria can hide from the brush and floss. It’s definitely better to use EO water as a rinse than not to.
But we haven’t yet discussed the gums and gum disease. These are the last 2 parts of this series that will bring all this information together for you. Jenny’s mouth needs our further investigation and I guarantee what we learn will also apply to you.