What causes tooth decay.
Dental cavities are caused by a bacterial infection called Streptococcus mutans. S. mutans is not present at birth but is usually acquired by children in early childhood or infancy, many before tooth eruption.
How we are exposed.
Human beings get infected by the most innocent of sources, the mother's first kisses.
Adults may have a high concentration of S. mutans in their mouths. Bacteria can be transmitted from a parent or another intimate caregiver to an infant or child via saliva, for example, by allowing infants or children to put their fingers in the parent’s mouth and then into their own mouths, testing the temperature of a bottle with the mouth, sharing forks and spoons, and “cleaning” a pacifier or a bottle nipple that has fallen by sucking on it before giving it back to the infant or child.
Even if an infant or child is already infected with S. mutans, transmission can increase the concentration of bacteria in the infant’s or child’s mouth, increasing the likelihood of tooth decay or resulting in more severe decay. Therefore, it is important that parents and other intimate caregivers practice good oral hygiene and avoid behaviors that could transmit S. mutans to an infant or child. (source)
Other problems caused by Streptococcus mutans.
S. mutans is manageable and considered by dentists to be natural when confined to the oral cavity but is a serious infection when the bacteria migrates to any other part of the body. Infection of the heart valve by S. mutans is a life threatening disease that can be initiated by improper procedures at the dentist's office. All people with pre-existing heart valve problems such as mitral valve prolapse are encouraged to take antibiotics such as Amoxicillin or Clindamycin prior to dental work to prevent the S mutans infection from traveling in the bloodstream and affecting the heart. (Guidelines have recently changed, so consult your doctor and/or dentist before getting any dental work done.
People with prosthetic joints may also be recommended to take antibiotic premedication prior to dental work to prevent S. mutans from migrating to the joints and causing or compounding rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatments for Streptococcus mutans infection.
In 1983, I Zickert, C G Emilson, and B Krasse authored a study on "Correlation of level and duration of Streptococcus mutans infection with incidence of dental caries." The study showed "the value of antimicrobial treatment in the prevention of caries."(source)
In 1975, R T Evans, F G Emmings, and R J Genco showed that a vaccine(composed of dead cells) to S. Mutans prevented infection by S. mutans in the oral cavities of monkeys--study has not been reproduced on humans. (source)
http://www.mchoralhealth.org/openwide/mod1_0.htm specializing in "Oral Health Training For Health Professionals"
Economics of treatment verses cure.
Dental cary repair represents a large portion of any dentist's business and is the largest portion of any dental office's income. The cost of actually filling a cavity is nearly insignificant compared to the average cost of a visit to the dental office, so there is a strong resistance to changing the way people are treated for tooth decay.
Today, it is common for a patient to be belittled for their failure to brush and floss "enough". There is no specific guideline for how often or how long to brush and floss but "3 times a day" is a typical recommendation. Truth is that no matter how much you brush, as soon as you get a cavity, "you haven't brushed enough", "you haven't flossed enough," or you "haven't done it correctly." Dentists use this argument to put the blame on the patient rather than mentioning the true cause of caries, S. mutans, and how to slow the infection or kill it for good. Why? Because it is not good for the bottom line to tell a patient, "You can prevent future cavities by taking a vaccine or antibiotic and then rinse your mouth with an antibacterial on a regular basis." But, it is very good for the bottom line to blame the patient and then continue to fill cavities with $5.00 worth of materials and charge $250 for the service.
One of the reasons why this has worked out so well for Dentists(who make nearly as much doctors with about half the education and no late night emergency calls) is that when people are having a toothache, they will pay anything they have to make it stop. The ADA also has a very powerful Lobby in Washington DC that has exempted them from price controls on services and exemption from providing emergency medical treatment to anyone who needs it.
Slowing the effects of S. Mutans:
Until dentists are willing to prescribe a routine of Amoxicillin or Clindamycin to kill the bacteria at its source or rally behind a vaccine(and effectively kill off 50% or more of their business) there are a few natural products that kill or slow the growth of S. mutans. One of the most effective is peppermint oil which is why so many tooth pastes taste like peppermint--unfortunately most modern toothpastes use artificial flavor so this benefit has been lost.
Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, the power behind cavity prevention. Cavities are a result of lingering bacteria in the mouth- the main condition rooted in bacteria production is delayed and prevented by licorice.
Only 15 milligrams of licorice powder eliminates 99.9 percent of Streptococcus mutans, a common bacterium that could release harmful cavity-causing acids.
Before cavities appear, bacteria in the mouth produce acids that create holes in the top layer of the teeth. Streptococcus mutans is particularly harmful and causes a large percentage of these holes.
Importantly, the extract does not kill the other bacteria in the mouth necessary for good oral health.
Cinnamon EO is antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral and astringent.
Peppermint EO is antibacterial, analgesic, and antiseptic.
Spearmint EO is antibacterial, anti-catarrhal, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic.
Citrus EO is antibacterial, anti-depressant, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, and restorative.
Ginger EO is antibacterial and antiseptic.
Brush to Clean and Kill
Learn how to brush your teeth and kill S. mutans at the same time.