Year after year, tooth decay is one of the most common diseases that people face. Indeed, tooth decay, also more commonly known as cavities or caries, plagues mouths across the world. Tooth decay happens when plaque, which is the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with sugars from the food we eat. This combination produces acids that can damage and weaken tooth enamel. While there is no cure for tooth decay beyond professional dental treatment, there are actions you can take to prevent cavities. Let’s get into more detail about tooth decay.
What is Tooth Decay?
Food and bacteria can cause tooth decay. Plaque is always forming inside your mouth. This sticky substance is getting on your gums and your teeth, and it contains the bacteria that feast on the sugars from the food we eat. When bacteria feed, they make acid. And that acid can attack your teeth well after you are done eating, and over a long enough period of time they can start to destroy tooth enamel. Left untreated, decay will work its way throughout your entire tooth and all of its layers.
You may not notice pain or sensitivity until decay goes through your tooth enamel and into the dentin layer, which can become irritated by hot or cold foods and drinks.
There are more factors and behaviors that can make you more likely to get tooth decay.
First and foremost, not brushing your teeth can be the biggest factor. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and be sure to floss regularly. Book appointments with your dental office for cleanings and checkups to stay on top of your teeth and stay ahead of cavities. Another important factor is the type of food you eat. If you eat foods that are high in sugar, you are giving the bacteria in your mouth more to feed on. You may have heard it before, but try to avoid candy, soda, juice, and cookies. Limit the number of snacks you consume between meals, as increased consumption of sugary foods can elevate the risk of decay.
Other factors can be dry mouth syndrome and not having enough saliva in your mouth. Saliva acts as natural protection for your teeth, washing away food and the harmful sugars from your teeth.
Incorporating fluoride-based toothpaste in your oral care routine can make your teeth more resilient to the acids. In addition to toothpaste, several oral rinses or mouthwash also include fluoride.
How does a cavity happen?
If you often consume sugary drinks or foods, a cavity can occur if a tooth is frequently exposed to acid. Over time, acids that continuously attack your teeth may lead to the demineralization of your tooth enamel. Reversible white spots on your teeth mean you have lost some minerals, and that’s a sign you might be heading towards tooth decay.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay from Getting Worse
While not curable, you can try to stop it early with a good oral care regimen. This includes buying an electric toothbrush to help remove plaque better and help prevent cavities from forming in the first place. It’s also important to be aware that enamel is able to repair itself by using saliva’s minerals, and this is greatly assisted by the fluoride sources like toothpaste.
How to Treat Cure Tooth Decay
While there is no true tooth decay cure, there are treatment options. While this depends on the severity of the cavity, a dentist might need to drill to remove the decayed portion of a tooth and use a filling to replace it. If a tooth is in very bad shape, a dentist might need to remove the extensively damaged tooth structure and replace it with a crown, which is fitted around whatever remains of the tooth. If it's so bad that the nerves of a tooth are dead, a root canal treatment might be necessary. That involves removing nerves and tissue along with the decayed tooth, and placing a crown on top.
Avoid tooth decay and make sure you keep smiling!