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是什么导致了蛀牙? – 译学馆
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是什么导致了蛀牙?

What causes cavities? - Mel Rosenberg

最近 一支考古学家团队偶然发现了
When a team of archaeologists recently came across
一些15000年前的人类残骸
some 15,000 year-old human remains,
他们发现了个有趣的现象
they made an interesting discovery.
这些远古人类的牙齿千疮百孔
The teeth of those ancient humans were riddled with holes.
他们蛀牙的形成因素至今仍然存在于我们身上
Their cavities were caused by the same thing that still plagues us today,
特定的微生物寄居在我们口腔内
specific tiny microbes that live in our mouths.
这些微生物在我们出生后很快就有了
These microbes are with us soon after birth.
婴儿通常从妈妈的嘴里染得这些微生物
We typically pick them up as babies from our mothers’ mouths.
在我们长牙期
And as our teeth erupt,
它们自然地开始累积细菌群
they naturally begin to accumulate communities of bacteria.
取决于我们吃什么,
Depending on what we eat,
特别是我们吸收了多少糖分,
and specifically how much sugar we consume,
毫无疑问的是细菌可以繁殖形成蛀牙
certain microbes can overpopulate and cause cavities.
每天摄入高糖分食物会让细菌迅速繁殖
Diets high in sugary foods cause an explosion of bacteria
被称为口腔内部变异链球菌
called mutans streptococci in our mouths.
和人类一样 这种微生物组织喜欢糖
Like humans, these microorganisms love sugar,
把糖当作分子构成材料和能量来源
using it as a molecular building block and energy source.
当它们在消耗我们牙齿上的糖分,
As they consume it,
那些细菌分泌的副产物组成酸性物质
the bacteria generate byproducts in the form of acids,
比如乳酸。
such as lactic acid.
变异链球菌可以帮我们抵抗这些乳酸,
Mutans streptococci are resistant to this acid,
但很不幸运的是,我们的牙齿无法抵抗那些乳酸。
but unfortunately, our teeth aren’t.
然而每个人的牙齿都被强大的具有保护性的一层珐琅釉质所覆盖,
While each human tooth is coated in a hardy, protective layer of enamel,
它让我们的牙齿减少与酸的接触。
it’s no match for acid.
那些酸的腐蚀一直在使珐琅质这层盔甲降解,然后过滤当中的钙等矿物质。
That degrades the armor over time, leaching away its calcium minerals.
通常情况下,酸性物质在细菌入侵的道路上形成了保护,
Gradually, acid wears down a pathway for bacteria
从而进入牙齿的第二层,即象牙质。
into the tooth’s secondary layer called the dentin.
在越接近牙根的地方,布满了血管和神经,
Since blood vessels and nerves in our teeth are enclosed deep within,
在酸入侵的这一阶段,逐渐扩大的牙齿内部不会被伤害。
at this stage, the expanding cavity doesn’t hurt.
但是,如果伤害继续扩大,越过了象牙质,
But if the damage extends beyond the dentin,
细菌性的侵害会更加严重,
the bacterial invasion progresses
当牙内的被暴露出来,会导致牙神经的极度疼痛。
causing excruciating pain as the nerves become exposed.
如果不及时治疗,整个牙齿都将收到影响
Without treatment, the whole tooth may become infected
并且发生松动。
and require removal
所有的这一切都要归咎于那些喜爱糖的细菌们。
all due to those sugar-loving bacteria.
如果我们的食物中含越多的糖,
The more sugar our food contains,
我们的牙齿就会离危险更近一步。
the more our teeth are put at risk.
那些住在洞穴里的原始人几乎不食用含糖量高的食物,那么,
Those cavemen would hardly have indulged in sugary treats, however,
是什么导致他们蛀牙的呢?
so what caused their cavities?
在肉类很多的饮食中,蛀牙发展的风险将会减少,
In meat-heavy diets, there would have been a low-risk of cavities developing
因为瘦肉中包含很少的糖分,
because lean meat contains very little sugar,
但瘦肉并不是我们先人唯一的食物。
but that’s not all our early human ancestors ate.
我们的祖先同样食用根菜,坚果和谷物,
Cavemen would also have consumed root vegetables, nuts, and grains,
这些都含有糖类。
all of which contain carbohydrates.
当接触唾液淀粉酶时,
When exposed to enzymes in the saliva,
糖类会被分解成单糖,
carbohydrates get broken down into simpler sugars,
这可以成为那些贪婪的口腔细菌的饲料。
which can become the fodder for those ravenous mouth bacteria.
因此,虽然古人吃的糖比我们少,
So while ancient humans did eat less sugar compared to us,
但是他们的牙齿仍会被糖侵蚀。
their teeth were still exposed to sugars.
不过这并不意味着他们不能治疗他们的蛀牙,
That doesn’t mean they were unable to treat their cavities, though.
考古发现的遗迹说明这是在1400年以前,
Archaeological remains show that about 14,000 years ago,
人们已经可以利用尖锐的石器移除一些腐烂的牙齿。
humans were already using sharpened flint to remove bits of rotten teeth.
古人甚至可以制作简单的钻孔
Ancient humans even made rudimentary drills
将那些粗糙的牙洞磨平
to smooth out the rough holes left behind
同时,用蜂蜡填补蛀牙,和现代差不多。
and beeswax to plug cavities, like modern-day fillings.
今天,我们有许多复杂的技术和工具,
Today, we have much more sophisticated techniques and tools,
我们幸运的能使用它们与牙齿的损坏作斗争,
which is fortunate because we also need to contend with our more damaging,
以及暴吃糖的方式。
sugar-guzzling ways.
工业革命之后,糖对蛀牙的影响
After the Industrial Revolution, the human incidence of cavities surged
因为技术的提高
because suddenly we had technological advances
使糖类得以精炼,从而变得便宜和易得。
that made refined sugar cheaper and accessible.
现在,令人难以置信的是92%的美国人曾经都有蛀牙。
Today, an incredible 92% of American adults have had cavities in their teeth.
一些人怀疑他们的蛀牙是基因的遗传
Some people are more susceptible to cavities due to genes
基因使他们的牙齿一部分更加脆弱,比如珐琅质,
that may cause certain weaknesses, like softer enamel,
但对于大多数人来说,高糖分的摄入才是罪魁祸首。
but for most, high sugar consumption is to blame.
当然,人类现在已经找到减少蛀牙的方法了,
However, we have developed other ways of minimizing cavities
减少糖分和淀粉的摄入,
besides reducing our intake of sugar and starch.
多数的牙膏和水的供应中,
In most toothpastes and many water supplies,
我们添加了微量的氟。
we use tiny amounts of fluoride.
氟能加强牙齿和牙釉质晶体的生长
That strengthens teeth and encourages the growth of enamel crystals
以此建立牙齿对酸的防御。
that build up a tooth’s defenses against acid.
当牙齿被蛀时,
When cavities do develop,
我们用牙齿填充物填充和关闭受感染区,
we use tooth fillings to fill and close off the infected area,
阻止牙齿变得更糟。
preventing them from getting worse.
不过,最好的方法还是减少糖分的摄入
The best way to avoid a cavity is still cutting down on sugar intake
同时保持口腔卫生的状态良好
and practicing good oral hygiene
并排除使牙蛀虫的细菌和食物的来源。
to get rid of the bacteria and their food sources.
这需要定期刷牙,
That includes regular tooth brushing,
使用牙线,
flossing,
避免含糖量高的食物,
and avoiding sugary,
淀粉类食物,
starchy,
因为在你用餐之后,食物会残留在你的牙齿上。
and sticky foods that cling to your teeth between meals.
逐渐的,喜糖类细菌数量会在你的嘴里减少。
Gradually, the population of sugar-loving microbes in your mouth will decline.
不像过去住在山洞里的古人,
Unlike the cavemen of yesteryear,
今天我们拥有避免蛀牙所需的知识。
today we have the knowledge required to avert a cavity calamity.
我们只是缺少对它的应用。
We just need to use it.

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