26 May How to Break The Cycle of Tooth Decay
We all know the feeling of being told we need to fill a cavity. Your tooth may be experiencing pain or sensitivity, or maybe you just noticed the telltale dark spots on the otherwise white enameled surface. Tooth decay is a serious issue that, if not treated, can result in more serious dental issues. But the good news is that, nowadays, there are many in-office and at-home treatments that can help slow down and even reverse tooth decay.
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay and the hole in the tooth that develops from it is actually a symptom of a disease called caries. Acid-loving bacteria like streptococci and lactobacilli cause caries. In fact, there are upwards of 65 different types of bacteria that are associated with causing tooth decay and caries.
These bacteria can attach to teeth and settle and multiply in tooth plaque. The bad bacteria feed on the foods you eat; they especially love fruit and regular sugars, as well as cooked starches like potatoes, rice, bread, and pasta.
A few minutes after you eat, the bacteria begin digesting the food on the surface of your teeth and start producing acid as a by-product of their digestion. The acid can eat through the tooth’s surface and can even dissolve the tooth’s minerals like calcium and phosphate.
Under normal circumstances, your saliva can do an adequate job of neutralizing and clearing the acid and supplying the fluoride and minerals needed to restore the enamel. However, if the number of acid-producing bacteria is too great, tooth decay is likely to occur.
What Happens When You Have a Cavity?
Once you develop a cavity, there are a few scenarios of what can happen next. Small cavities can be cleaned out and filled with a composite filling. Larger cavities will be cleaned out and either filled with a composite filling, or, if the hole left by the cavity is too big, your dentist may choose to use a crown or an overlay to cover it.
Sometimes, if a cavity is left unattended for a long time, it can cause a lot of damage and require more drastic measures. Untreated cavities can cause an infection, in which case a root canal could be prescribed.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
Here are a few things you can do to ensure proper oral hygiene and prevent tooth decay.
Reducing the amount of sugary and starchy foods and beverages you eat and drink can help prevent tooth decay. Try not to eat foods like lollipops or drink sugary carbonated beverages too often. Your last meal of the day should be eaten at least an hour before bed. And of course, always brush and floss before going to bed.
Using toothpaste, mouth rinses, and other products that contain fluoride could help strengthen teeth against bacterial acids.
Because bacteria like to make their home base on plaque, it’s essential to do your best to remove it. At-home brushing and flossing can help reduce plaque on your teeth and reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. And it is vital to come in for regular professional dental cleanings to remove any plaque you may have missed.
Your saliva is crucial in protecting your teeth against bacteria. Saliva can neutralize acid and provide minerals and proteins that protect the teeth. If you’d like to stimulate saliva production, you can chew sugar-free gum after you’ve finished eating. This is the second-best way to protect your teeth after eating. The best way is, of course, by brushing your teeth after a meal.
Some individuals have deep and small grooves in their teeth. And no amount of brushing and flossing can protect those areas from acid-induced decay. Your dentist may recommend using a sealant to cover these deep grooves as a preventative measure.
Learn more about tooth decay and how to prevent it at Koch Aesthetic Dentistry
At Koch Aesthetic Dentistry, we can advise you on the best oral care routine for you, so you can stop the cycle of tooth decay. If you’d like to learn more about our routine exams, cleanings, fillings, crowns, and more – contact us today.