full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Mel Rosenberg: What causes cavities?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

When a team of archaeologists recently came across some 15,000 year-old hamun remains, they made an interesting discovery. The teeth of those ancneit 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' mhtous. And as our teeth erupt, they naturally begin to accumulate communities of bacteria. ddnepneig 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 eoixposln of bacteria called mutans streptococci in our mouths. Like humans, these microorganisms love sugar, using it as a molecular bdliinug 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 lyaer of eaenml, it's no match for acid. That deradges 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 bolod vessels and nerves in our teeth are enclosed deep within, at this stgae, the eapnndxig cavity doesn't hurt. But if the daamge extends beyond the dentin, the bacterial invasion progresses causing excruciating pain as the nrvees become exposed. Without ttemrnaet, the whole tooth may become infected and rqrueie removal all due to those sugar-loving btcearia. The more sugar our food contains, the more our teeth are put at risk. Those cavemen would hardly have ilunedgd 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 grinas, all of which contain carbohydrates. When exposed to enemzys in the saliva, carbohydrates get broken down into simpler sugars, which can become the fodder for those ravenous mutoh bacteria. So while ancient humans did eat less saugr 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 yeras ago, humans were already using sharpened flint to remove bits of rotten teeth. Ancient hamnus even made raeiunmdtry drills to smooth out the rough holes left behind and beeswax to plug cavities, like modern-day fillings. tdoay, we have much more sophisticated techniques and tolos, which is fortunate because we also need to contend with our more dnigmaag, sugar-guzzling ways. After the Industrial rivoteluon, the human incidence of cavities surged because suddenly we had technological advances that made refined sugar cheaper and accessible. Today, an icirdlnebe 92% of American adults have had cavities in their teeth. Some peolpe are more susceptible to cavities due to genes that may cause certain weaknesses, like softer enamel, but for most, high sugar cmsouoitpnn is to blame. However, we have dleevpoed other ways of minimizing citaievs besides reducing our itakne of sugar and starch. In most ttohtspeoas 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 cativy is still cutting down on sugar intake and practicing good oral hygiene to get rid of the bacteria and their food sources. That includes rlaguer totoh brushing, flossing, and avoiding sugary, starchy, and sticky foods that cling to your teeth between meals. gadrlualy, the population of sugar-loving microbes in your mouth will decline. Unlike the cmeaven of yesteryear, today we have the knowledge required to avert a cavity calamity. We just need to use it.

Open Cloze

When a team of archaeologists recently came across some 15,000 year-old _____ remains, they made an interesting discovery. The teeth of those _______ 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' ______. And as our teeth erupt, they naturally begin to accumulate communities of bacteria. _________ 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 _________ of bacteria called mutans streptococci in our mouths. Like humans, these microorganisms love sugar, using it as a molecular ________ 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 _____ of ______, it's no match for acid. That ________ 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 _____ vessels and nerves in our teeth are enclosed deep within, at this _____, the _________ cavity doesn't hurt. But if the ______ extends beyond the dentin, the bacterial invasion progresses causing excruciating pain as the ______ become exposed. Without _________, the whole tooth may become infected and _______ removal all due to those sugar-loving ________. The more sugar our food contains, the more our teeth are put at risk. Those cavemen would hardly have ________ 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 ______, all of which contain carbohydrates. When exposed to _______ in the saliva, carbohydrates get broken down into simpler sugars, which can become the fodder for those ravenous _____ bacteria. So while ancient humans did eat less _____ 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 _____ ago, humans were already using sharpened flint to remove bits of rotten teeth. Ancient ______ even made ___________ drills to smooth out the rough holes left behind and beeswax to plug cavities, like modern-day fillings. _____, we have much more sophisticated techniques and _____, which is fortunate because we also need to contend with our more ________, sugar-guzzling ways. After the Industrial __________, the human incidence of cavities surged because suddenly we had technological advances that made refined sugar cheaper and accessible. Today, an __________ 92% of American adults have had cavities in their teeth. Some ______ are more susceptible to cavities due to genes that may cause certain weaknesses, like softer enamel, but for most, high sugar ___________ is to blame. However, we have _________ other ways of minimizing ________ besides reducing our ______ of sugar and starch. In most ___________ 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 ______ is still cutting down on sugar intake and practicing good oral hygiene to get rid of the bacteria and their food sources. That includes _______ _____ brushing, flossing, and avoiding sugary, starchy, and sticky foods that cling to your teeth between meals. _________, the population of sugar-loving microbes in your mouth will decline. Unlike the _______ of yesteryear, today we have the knowledge required to avert a cavity calamity. We just need to use it.

Solution

  1. bacteria
  2. nerves
  3. regular
  4. cavity
  5. sugar
  6. consumption
  7. human
  8. indulged
  9. mouth
  10. expanding
  11. tooth
  12. incredible
  13. cavemen
  14. blood
  15. degrades
  16. depending
  17. today
  18. layer
  19. treatment
  20. tools
  21. building
  22. gradually
  23. years
  24. stage
  25. require
  26. toothpastes
  27. damage
  28. enzymes
  29. ancient
  30. intake
  31. cavities
  32. grains
  33. mouths
  34. humans
  35. people
  36. enamel
  37. rudimentary
  38. damaging
  39. developed
  40. explosion
  41. revolution

Original Text

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.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
ancient humans 3
mutans streptococci 2

Important Words

  1. accessible
  2. accumulate
  3. acid
  4. acids
  5. adults
  6. advances
  7. american
  8. amounts
  9. ancestors
  10. ancient
  11. archaeological
  12. archaeologists
  13. area
  14. armor
  15. ate
  16. avert
  17. avoid
  18. avoiding
  19. babies
  20. bacteria
  21. bacterial
  22. beeswax
  23. birth
  24. bits
  25. blame
  26. block
  27. blood
  28. broken
  29. brushing
  30. build
  31. building
  32. byproducts
  33. calamity
  34. calcium
  35. called
  36. carbohydrates
  37. caused
  38. causing
  39. cavemen
  40. cavities
  41. cavity
  42. cheaper
  43. cling
  44. close
  45. coated
  46. communities
  47. compared
  48. consume
  49. consumed
  50. consumption
  51. contend
  52. crystals
  53. cutting
  54. damage
  55. damaging
  56. decline
  57. deep
  58. defenses
  59. degrades
  60. dentin
  61. depending
  62. develop
  63. developed
  64. developing
  65. diets
  66. discovery
  67. drills
  68. due
  69. early
  70. eat
  71. enamel
  72. enclosed
  73. encourages
  74. energy
  75. enzymes
  76. erupt
  77. excruciating
  78. expanding
  79. explosion
  80. exposed
  81. extends
  82. fill
  83. fillings
  84. flint
  85. flossing
  86. fluoride
  87. fodder
  88. food
  89. foods
  90. form
  91. fortunate
  92. generate
  93. genes
  94. good
  95. gradually
  96. grains
  97. growth
  98. hardy
  99. high
  100. holes
  101. human
  102. humans
  103. hurt
  104. hygiene
  105. incidence
  106. includes
  107. incredible
  108. indulged
  109. industrial
  110. infected
  111. intake
  112. interesting
  113. invasion
  114. knowledge
  115. lactic
  116. layer
  117. leaching
  118. lean
  119. left
  120. live
  121. love
  122. match
  123. meals
  124. meat
  125. microbes
  126. microorganisms
  127. minerals
  128. minimizing
  129. molecular
  130. mouth
  131. mouths
  132. mutans
  133. naturally
  134. nerves
  135. nuts
  136. oral
  137. overpopulate
  138. pain
  139. pathway
  140. people
  141. pick
  142. plagues
  143. plug
  144. population
  145. practicing
  146. preventing
  147. progresses
  148. protective
  149. put
  150. ravenous
  151. reducing
  152. refined
  153. regular
  154. remains
  155. removal
  156. remove
  157. require
  158. required
  159. resistant
  160. revolution
  161. rid
  162. riddled
  163. risk
  164. root
  165. rotten
  166. rough
  167. rudimentary
  168. saliva
  169. secondary
  170. sharpened
  171. show
  172. simpler
  173. smooth
  174. softer
  175. sophisticated
  176. source
  177. sources
  178. specific
  179. specifically
  180. stage
  181. starch
  182. starchy
  183. sticky
  184. strengthens
  185. streptococci
  186. suddenly
  187. sugar
  188. sugars
  189. sugary
  190. supplies
  191. surged
  192. susceptible
  193. team
  194. techniques
  195. technological
  196. teeth
  197. time
  198. tiny
  199. today
  200. tools
  201. tooth
  202. toothpastes
  203. treat
  204. treatment
  205. treats
  206. typically
  207. unable
  208. vegetables
  209. vessels
  210. water
  211. ways
  212. weaknesses
  213. wears
  214. worse
  215. years
  216. yesteryear