Tooth Decay | Tooth Decayed

Tooth decay, known formally as dental caries, has been a serious health problem for all nations since time immemorial. For centuries, tooth decay was thought to be the handiwork of an elusive and, in some cultures, evil tooth worm that gnawed holes into the white, highly mineralized enamel and left all those in its wake in pain. But superstition has yielded to science and its explanation that certain oral bacteria discharge mineral-eroding acid onto the enamel, starting the gradual process of decay. Over the last several decades, dental researchers have made tremendous progress in defining and learning to thwart the decay process. This work has involved the three-pronged strategy of discovery, innovation, and prevention - and produced one of the major public health success stories of the 20th century.

Yesterday

  • Few people were spared the ordeal of losing teeth, often early in life. The combination of tooth decay and periodontal diseases left 17 million people age 45 and older — about three out of 10 Americans — with none of their natural teeth. In fact, the most common cause of WWII draft rejection was too few teeth because of tooth decay. Until the 1970s, the cause of tooth decay continued to be a subject of debate, with some believing dietary deficiencies were the culprit and others focusing on oral bacteria. This uncertainty made effective prevention strategies difficult, if not impossible, to create. Moreover, brushing one's teeth each day was a fairly recent hygienic step forward in dental care, reportedly popularized by returning soldiers from World War II.

  • The NIH completed the first water fluoridation study that established the benefits of fluoride in fighting tooth decay. Several years would pass before fluoride, the mainstay of modern prevention strategies, would become a common ingredient in water, toothpaste, and other products.

Tooth decay was considered an irreversible disease process — once a cavity started, the only remedy was to drill out the decay and fill the tooth with a restorative material.

Today

Tooth decay is no longer the national epidemic it was a few generations ago. Millions of American children now have little or no decay, and total tooth loss or edentulism is now much less common. Without research progress in the fight against dental caries and periodontal diseases, there would be an additional 18.6 million Americans age 45 and older with none of their natural teeth.

Prevention is now the mantra in American dentistry. In addition to improved products to fight tooth decay, more people benefit from preventive dentistry, including the use of fluorides and dental sealants to prevent decay. Compared to previous years, these techniques have made it possible for millions more people to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime. It is estimated that from 1979 through 1989 alone, the American public saved more than $39 billion in dental expenditures due to the power of prevention. Since the 1950s, the total federal investment in NIH-funded oral health research has saved the American public at least $3 for every $1 invested.

Tomorrow

  • New technologies will further prevent tooth decay. Research is underway to develop powerful imaging tools that can detect the earliest demineralization of tooth enamel. These tools will allow the application of special solutions to remineralize the tooth and reverse early decay.
  • Examples of NIH research projects funded in 2010 include "Development of high performance, caries-inhibiting dental nano-materials" and "Enamel mineral formation during murine odontogenesis."
  • Advances in DNA sequencing produced vast gene databases for many of the bacteria that cause tooth decay. These bacterial blueprints now allow scientists to identify specific genes essential to the decay process, and it may be possible in the future to directly target these genes and inactivate the ability of these bacteria to cause decay.
  • The bacteria that cause tooth decay live in complex communities called biofilms. Great strides have been made in learning how the bacteria communicate with one another within this biofilm. By jamming the communication signals among the bacteria, it may be possible one day to disrupt the biofilm and end the threat of tooth decay.

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Spectrum Dental
200 East 33rd Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218

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Google Reviews

Very friendly staff! The dental hygienist Judith was wonderful - she's precise, efficient, and really took her time not only cleaning my teeth, but also explaining what she was doing and what I could be doing better to maintain maximum oral health. The dentist who checked my teeth was also very efficient and did not seem rushed at all. She took the time to listen to a concern I had and made sure to address it with me right then. What a great team!

Jade Brown

The staff is very patientand aw well as professional. The office atmosphere is nice aIso. I was very anxious and apprehensive going into a minor surgical procedure but Dr. Collier and her assistant were awesome! All fears were assuaged, I was comfortable, and the procedure went off without a hitch! I'm super grateful!

Whitney Hendrix

Dentist Dr. Dulan extracted a tooth after I went to another dentist who said I needed an oral surgeon dr. Dulan extracted my tooth in less than I minute without pain. I would recommend spectrum dental and Dr. Dulan made a usually frightening experience one that was painless and easy. I used to dread going to the dentist but Dr. Dulan made it a breeze. I would highly recommend them.

Denise Lowery

Wonderful service. Actually looking forward to my next visit.

Hadley Joseph

I left the dentist office a few minutes ago. I had a nice experience. The staff was kind and caring and the dentist was very professional. Everyone was very welcoming and the overall positivity made me feel comfortable. It was my first time at this dentist office and I was able to get done what I came in for plus a cleaning too.

Scarlett Wright

In a world where customer service and quality of service seems to be a thing of the past. I am here to TRULY say, my experience at Spectrum Dental yesterday was totally the opposite. I was treated like a kid as if it was all about me and the things that would make me happy and feel comfortable. I have to admit, I am a big kid when it comes to dental work. Dr. Dulan and her assistant made me feel like. I could have gone through open heart surgery and all she did was stuck me a couple of times to numb me. My point is that, they were not only gentle they were very genuinely caring. For that, I am so very grateful! You have to be good, no, great to convince me that it's okay to get a needle. Thank you for making my visit a pleasant one. You guys are the BEST!!!!!!!!!!! Rodney

Rondey Gross

I visit twice a year for exrays and cleaning. Judith, the hygients does an amazing job overall. If you have a fear of going to the dentist after one visit you wouldn't have any fears no more.Customer service is great . Very little wait time and once your done you can't help but to smile every chance you get.

Willie Harris

Dr. Collier and her associates have been our family dentist for about 15 years. Her staff is always professional and friendly and since we have been regular patients for so long, they even ask about my sons when they are not with me. She said either she was good or I was tired. I recommend Spectrum Dental highly and look forward to this practice always servicing our family's dental needs.

Jan D

Initially went to another dental office who attempted charge me a huge fee and appeared unwilling to work with existing dental coverage. Spectrurm Dental took time to talk to me, worked with my insurance provider, and developed a plan to deal with a complicated dental procedure. The oral surgeon was also present at the time of extraction in case the post could be implanted on the same day. The post will be implanted later but it was nice to see that they covered all bases.

Bill A

I've been with Spectrum for twenty years and they are absolutely outstanding. The customer service is outstanding! They are simply the best!

Dale C

If you need an extraction done, this is the place to come get it! It's quick and nearly pain-free. Dr. Caldwell is very good at what she does.

Kelly C