Tooth decay is a very real problem facing everyone in the country today. The reality is that over 86 percent of people have had some form of decay on at least one tooth by the age of 39. The good news is that this problem is largely preventable if you take the right steps. You should understand what causes tooth decay, how to identify it and how to prevent it from occurring.
Neglecting Oral Hygiene
One of the primary causes of tooth decay is neglecting oral hygiene. If you do not brush and floss on a regular basis, then bacteria will start to grow on the surface of your teeth. The bacteria will eat away at the enamel surface and get into the dentin underneath. Neglecting oral hygiene can lead to brown teeth, tooth pain or loss of teeth over time due to decay.
Foods High In Simple Sugars and Acids
Many of the processed and prepared foods available today contain simple carbohydrates that are really a form of sugar. These simple sugars are what bacteria eat. A diet that includes a large amount of foods like candy, soda and processed white bread will coat your teeth in those sugars. The result is that bacteria will start to grow quickly and damage your teeth. Additionally, acidic foods like tomato sauce will deplete the minerals in the outer layers of the tooth enamel so that it becomes easier for bacteria to take root.
Lack of Fluoride
Something that can contribute to tooth decay is a lack of fluoride. This element actually helps to neutralize acids and protect your teeth against decay when you get a little every day. A lack of fluoride can occur because you are not drinking enough tap water or are using toothpastes that do not contain this vital ingredient.
Having a dry mouth for a significant portion of the day will lead to problems with your teeth. Saliva is a natural defense against harmful substances like bacteria and acids that cause decay. If you mouth is always dry, then there will be nothing stopping the bacteria from growing and spreading across all your teeth. Dry mouth can be caused by not drinking enough water, medications or various medical conditions.
Diabetes has become a real problem today for many reasons. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most common causes of tooth decay. The improper processing of blood sugar in the body means that the saliva in your mouth will naturally contain a high level of glucose. This is similar to eating sugary foods all day long. The added glucose will feed the bacteria in your mouth and reduce the effectiveness of your saliva when fighting decay.
Smoking and Excessive Drinking
Both smoking and excessive drinking are causes of tooth decay. Smoking damages the tissue in your mouth and inhibits normal blood flow. This has the result of making your teeth and gums more vulnerable to infections that eventually result in decay. Drinking too much alcohol will physically strip away the important layer of enamel on your teeth allowing bacteria to quickly get into the underlying dentin.
A final common cause of decay is gum disease. Periodontal disease is caused by a buildup of bacteria in your gums. The bacteria will slowly rot away your teeth below the gum line if left untreated. The decay will spread to the visible parts of your teeth leading to discoloration or teeth that break easily.
Identifying and Preventing Tooth Decay
It is important to know some of the most common symptoms of tooth decay. The first is a constant dull aching in your teeth. This can eventually grow until simply biting down is painful. Your teeth will start to become more sensitive to hot and cold as the enamel wears away. This will be followed by visible signs of decay such as pitting and discoloration. If you do not act immediately when tooth decay symptoms first appear, then your teeth will change shape and eventually break or fall out. You should understand how to stop tooth decay.
Brush and Floss Every Day
One of the primary ways to prevent tooth decay is to brush and floss every day. You want to brush after meals whenever possible. Floss one to two times each day. If you cannot brush, then try to rinse your mouth out with some water or mouthwash after you eat meals or drink sugary beverages. Practicing good oral hygiene every day is a simple and effective way to protect your teeth.
Avoid Sugary Foods and Beverages
The next step is to avoid sugary foods and beverages. This includes sticky candies, soda and savory foods that contain a high amount of sugar or simple carbohydrates. Avoiding these foods is important because it removes the basic substances that bacteria need to grow. You will also prevent mineral loss in your teeth if you stay away from unhealthy sugary foods.
Drinking water is very important for the health of your teeth, gums and mouth. You want to drink water throughout the day every day of the week. Try to drink tap water when it is available. Drinking water washes debris off your teeth that could harbor bacteria. It also keeps your mouth moist and full of beneficial saliva. A final reason drinking water fights tooth decay is because it will provide necessary fluoride in most cases.
Eat a Good Diet
Part of taking care of your teeth is eating a good and healthy diet. You want to include crisp fresh fruits and vegetables to strengthen your teeth and scrape away bacteria. You also want to eat foods rich in calcium so that your teeth remain strong. Try to get a good balance of nutrients like vitamins C and D. Following a good diet will allow you to keep your natural teeth for a long time.
See a Dentist Regularly
A final step is to see your dentist regularly. You should see a dentist at least once every year for a checkup and cleaning. A dentist can detect problems early and potentially perform a tooth decay treatment to protect your teeth. A treatment for tooth decay could include applying fluoride to your teeth to strengthen the enamel. The cleaning your dentist performs will also ensure that your teeth and gums are free from harmful bacteria when you leave the office.