Dental decay is one of the most common oral health issues faced by people. Tooth decay takes place over time — with different tooth decay stages having different treatment methods. It starts at the enamel, which is the outermost layer of a tooth, and if left untreated, it can reach the inner layers and cause more severe damage, even the loss of your natural tooth.
What Causes Dental Decay?
When we consume foods containing carbohydrates such as sugars and starches, some of the food particles remain on the teeth. When a proper oral health routine like brushing and flossing regularly is not followed, these particles are not removed from the teeth. The bacteria in our mouth will start feeding on these particles. As a result, acids are produced.
The food particles, bacteria, acids, and saliva collectively form plaque, which is a sticky film that adheres to the teeth. When no treatment is sought, the plaque will start to deteriorate the enamel and form holes in the teeth, which are called cavities. Ultimately, the infection will reach within the teeth, and its root, and cause more damage.
The following are some of the common signs of dental decay:
- Spontaneous toothache
- Toothache when consuming anything hot, cold, or sweet.
- Tooth Sensitivity
- Stained teeth
- Visible holes on the teeth
If you encounter any of these symptoms, it’s important that you visit your dentist at the earliest. Delaying can worsen the situation, which can prove to be quite painful for you.
The following factors increase the risk of getting dental decay:
- It’s mostly your back teeth that are more prone to get decayed. The reason? They have lots of crannies, pits, and grooves, which makes them hard to clean.
- Some food items, such as ice cream, soda, honey, milk, cookies, cake, etc., get attached to your teeth for an extended period. Consuming a lot of them increases the risk of dental decay.
- Snacks and sugary drinks provide bacteria with more fuel so that they can attack your teeth. So, if you consume a lot of them, there are high chances of getting tooth decay.
- Poor oral hygiene is one of the most common reasons behind all oral health issues. When you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly, it results in plaque formation. This is basically the first stage of dental decay.
- Fluoride serves the function of preventing cavities. Not only this, but it can also help to reverse the initial stages of decay. So, if you do not get enough fluoride, there are fat chances that you will suffer from tooth decay and other dental issues. This is why dentists recommend using toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride.
- If you have dental fillings that have weakened or developed rough edges, it makes you more prone to getting dental decay as they allow easy plaque formation.
- People who have a dry mouth condition are also at risk of tooth decay. This is due to the fact that they lack saliva, which plays a vital role in preventing tooth decay as it performs the function of washing away plaque and food debris from teeth.
How to Prevent Dental Decay?
Once you have developed dental decay, it is possible to reverse very early signs. However, other treatments may be required if the infection has advanced depending on individual oral needs.
On the other hand, taking preventative measures to avoid decay and tooth infection is a far better option. Certain preventative measures can even help in controlling already diagnosed tooth decay and gum disease.
Here are a few simple preventative tips to follow:
- Brush the teeth at least twice a day. It is important to use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Many dentists recommend brushing after every meal. Additionally, many people skip brushing their teeth before bedtime, but it is a significant routine to develop.
- In addition to brushing, flossing daily is as important. Using a flossing thread or interdental cleaner, clean between the teeth.
- Rinsing with a mouthwash containing fluoride can be helpful. Some mouthwashes come with antiseptic ingredients, which can kill the bacteria that create plaque.
- It is better to minimize the number of snacks and follow a balanced diet plan instead. You should try avoiding carbohydrates because these can accumulate on the teeth. If you do eat sticky foods, follow by brushing your teeth.
- Your drinking water should be fluoridated.
- Visit your dentist for regular dental check-ups and dental cleanings so any plaque, tartar, or tooth infection can be resolved before worsening.
- Ask your dentist about supplemental fluoride.
- You can also ask your dentist about dental sealants, which is a plastic protective coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars (back teeth) to protect against decay.
At Sue Vetter’s clinic for dental care in Seattle, we offer preventative measures to avoid decay, along with quality and affordable tooth decay removal services. If you believe your teeth are showing signs of tooth decay, you should book an appointment with one of our dentists. Call or visit us to learn more about our dental services or book your appointment.