Improve your dental health and find out what really goes on in your mouth, how you get cavities, and how to stop and even reverse the process of tooth decay.
Tooth decay is a process that can cause cavities over longer periods of time. Tooth decay can impact both the outer coating of a tooth called enamel and the inner layer, which is called dentin.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Our mouths are chock-full of hundreds of different types of bacteria. They live on our tongue, teeth, and gums. They are basically everywhere. Although most bacteria are helpful, certain specific species of bacteria cause dental cavities. When you eat foods that contain carbohydrates such as bread, fruit, candy, soda, milk, cereals, potatoes, and cake, the remains stay on your teeth. Then the bacteria uses the leftover sugars to create acids, which break down the enamel and make holes called cavities.
The tooth decay battle rages on in our mouths every day. On one side, there is dental plaque, which clings to our teeth containing harmful acids. On the other side are the minerals in our saliva (such as calcium and phosphate) along with fluoride from toothpaste and water. This side helps the enamel to recover itself by restoring minerals lost during an acid attack.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Decay?
People who experience tooth decay may not initially be aware of it. The earliest sign is a small white spot on the surface of the tooth. This indicates the demineralization of the enamel. If left untreated, this micro-cavity can turn brown and will eventually turn into a cavity. The process can be reversed until the cavity has fully formed. The cavity becomes larger and larger as the enamel and dentin are gradually destroyed.
As the nerve of the tooth becomes exposed, you might experience toothache, particularly when you eat or drink foods that are hot, cold, or sweet. Dental cavities can also cause bad breath and foul tastes. In certain cases, when left unattended, tooth decay may lead to infection and complications that can be life-threatening. Your dentist will detect cavities during a regular dental check-up by probing your teeth, searching for soft spots, or using X-rays to inspect areas between your teeth.
How to Treat Tooth Decay?
You can actually prevent tooth decay by regularly using fluoride. It is a mineral which can keep tooth decay from advancing. It can entirely stop early tooth decay. Fluoride prevents mineral loss and restores lost minerals. It lessens the capability of bacteria to produce acid. There are two main sources of fluoride, both of which are extremely accessible. You simply have to drink fluoridated water from a community water supply and brush your teeth with toothpaste containing fluoride.
If the decay can no longer be prevented, you will have to visit your dentist. The dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth with a drill and insert filling into the hole. Also, if your tooth is badly decayed, your dentist can use a dental crown to repair the damaged part of the tooth.
Regular oral hygiene is of the utmost importance in tooth decay prevention. Avoid foods that are high in sugar, drink water after every meal and routinely brush and floss your teeth. If the tooth decay occurs and can no longer be stopped, visit your dentist who will provide you with the best possible treatment solution.