What causes tooth decay?
Posted on 5th November 2018 at 13:34
Also known as cavities, tooth decay occurs when the bacteria in your mouth produce an acid called plaque. Plaque acid gradually dissolves the enamel and dentine part of your tooth. The decay begins small and extensively grows as the tooth remains untreated. The untreated decay results in infection, pain, and eventually tooth loss.
There is a misconception that tooth decay mostly affects children. Despite not being great at taking care of their teeth, kids and teenagers who regularly visit a dentist usually have healthy teeth. Tooth decay can affect anyone irrespective of their age and size.
The following are some of the leading causes of tooth decay.
Many people are struggling with tooth decay due to their genetics. Just like inheriting the colour of your hair and eyes from your parents, one can also inherit enamel issues and tooth crevices which may result in cavities.
• Practising poor oral hygiene
Most people think just brushing their teeth is enough. Proper oral hygiene includes also brushing your tongue and mouth. You should brush your teeth for at least two minutes after every meal and floss like a boss too. Poor oral hygiene ultimately leads to tooth decay.
• Enamel issues and deep tooth crevices
If you have enamel issues and deep crevices, there is a high chance of having tooth decay. The bacteria and plaque easily grow in the deep crevices. At the Stanley Dental, patients having deep crevices that are not uninfected are treated using dental sealants.
Dental sealants are the materials used to fill the crevices reducing possibilities of tooth decay and creating a smooth surface that is easy to brush.
• Improper Nutrition
Sugary foods are the best friends of the bacteria producing plaque acids in your mouth. Sugary foods do not only include ‘candy', as many foods such as cereal bars, dried fruits, starches and tomato-based foods contain hidden sugars. The sugar nourishes the bacteria which in turn coats the teeth in plaque acids.
Acidic drinks such as carbonated beverages also play a crucial role in tooth decay as they immediately begin to damage the enamel. Eating a healthy diet, avoiding foods high in carbohydrates and acid is the best way to prevent cavities as a result of improper nutrition. Also, simple acts such as rinsing and brushing after each meal is a massive step towards healthy teeth.
• Dry Mouth
Saliva is a natural inhibitor for plaque; therefore, people with dry mouths are likely to have dental issues resulting in cavities.
Dry mouths may be genetic, as a result of prescription medications or even medical conditions. A vigilant and experienced dentist works closely with a patient to prevent the onset of tooth decay or further decay.
Cavities are more common as one becomes older. There are many reasons as to why cavities become common in old age. Some of the reasons include poor dental hygiene practised over the years, gums recession and prescription medications due to conditions such as diabetes.
• Tooth Grinding
Some people grind their teeth when under immense pressure or just as a habit. Tooth grinding may even occur when one is sleeping, and they may not notice. However, it is a habit that increases the probability of having tooth decay as the enamel is stripped away.
Tooth grinding can be prevented by reducing stress and using a bite ‘guard.' A bite guard, also called a mouth guard, is a protective device placed between the teeth to prevent injury or in this case, tooth grinding.
• Dodging the Dentist
Avoiding the dentist is not good for your teeth. Don't be afraid a visit to the dentist at least every six months or even more regularly as this keeps decay away. During each visit at Wayre Forest Dental, the dentist scrutinises your teeth for any signs of cavities.
The dentist will then work quickly to treat your teeth if there are any signs of decay. Aftercare preventive measures against future decay will also be provided.
The health of your teeth just like any other part of the body needs to be maintained. Therefore, religiously brushing your teeth without consulting a dentist may not be a guarantee you are safe from cavities. Only an experienced dentist can identify vulnerabilities that may expose your teeth to cavities and advise you on necessary preventive measures.
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