Our teeth are very durable and robust, able to stand up to most challenges we throw their way. However, if we eat a diet high in sugars, we increase the risk of tooth decay. If left untreated, this can lead to pain in the teeth and the checkbook alike.
Dentists see patients suffering from varying degrees of tooth decay on a daily basis, and in many cases, the decay has been caused by poor diet and oral hygiene. The good news is that tooth decay can be easily managed by following some simple guidelines.
What is Tooth Decay?
Our mouths are full of bacteria, which, given the right conditions, can prove troublesome for our teeth. Over time, the bacteria attach themselves to the teeth and forms a sticky layer on the tooth called plaque. Bacteria love it when we eat and drink, sugary and starchy food because it provides a source of energy. The problem with this is, that when the bacteria feed, they release acid onto the tooth that attacks the outer layer of the tooth.
This constant acid attack can result in damage to the outer part of the tooth, forming cavities that will need to be treated. Failure to do so will lead to more significant damage.
It is essential to visit your dentist regularly. Tooth decay may not produce any noticeable symptoms, so, treating the tooth decay early is the best treatment for the tooth. Some of the early signs of tooth decay will only be seen during a dental examination, but as the decay advances, you may notice some of the following:
- Tooth pain
- Sensitivity: especially when eating sweets
- Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Discoloration or shadows inside the tooth
If you have a constant toothache or sensitivity, this indicates that the decay has started attacking the inner layers of the tooth, which will require your dentist to do more advanced work on the affected area.
Prevention Is the Best Cure
If you think back to your regular trips to the dentist, what are some of the questions your dental professional asks? Are you brushing twice a day regularly? Snacking between meals? Do you have dry mouth or immune compromising health issues? All of the answers to these types of questions can have a major impact on your oral health and tooth decay.
Regular visits to the dentist will help you stay on top of any decay and prevent it from developing further if any signs show up during the dental exam. During your visit, your dentist or dental hygienist will remove any plaque on the tooth’s surface and apply some fluoride if needed. They will also tell you if they identify any problem areas, repair them, and make suggestions on how to effectively look after your teeth
These visits will be in vain if you don’t maintain good oral hygiene, and this starts with making sure you brush your teeth twice a day as well as flossing. Using a high-quality fluoride toothpaste and changing toothbrushes frequently are all good ideas.
Most dentists will recommend reducing snacks, especially candy, soda’s and starchy foods, between meal times and after brushing because they increase the acid in your mouth and will counteract the benefits of the fluoridated toothpaste and remineralization.
By following these simple steps, you will improve your oral health, and reduce the possibility of cavities and any other complications that come with it. An important note: If repairs are not done or oral health managed, the result is eventual tooth loss.
Have a healthy and smiling day!