How To Prevent Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is not a new problem. As mentioned in a previous article, the ancients believed that a worm caused the pain in your tooth. Of course, this is not the case. Tooth decay is defined as a thinning out and eventual collapse of the tooth enamel. The reason this happens is because the chemicals that break down the minerals in your enamel become outweighed by the bacteria that cause tooth decay. You can see that this is a complex medical condition, and there are many factors at play.

What is tooth decay?

This illness is one of the most widespread in all of the world, some 95% of all people on Earth will be affected by it at one point or another. Fortunately, this is well know and precautions have been taken to fight against this foe. Teeth become sensitive at different points in life, it is no accident that kids, for example, are much more likely to have fillings than adults. A British study found that most parents feel guilt and shame at the dental ills of their children, and thus are less likely to seek the help of a dentist. Even the most circumspect dental hygiene care will not guarantee a life free from cavities; genetics and the biochemical makeup of our saliva also play a role.

tooth-with-brush

What Causes It?

There are many factors, so it is difficult to say with certainty what causes it, but here are four possible culprits, who are more than likely responsible for your dental woes:

1) Plaque. There are many different kinds of bacteria living in our mouths. Some break down carbohydrates, and they make sticky biofilm and acidic by products as a result. These form plaque that bacteria live in, and they continue to make acid, which eats away at the enamel on your teeth.

2) Carbohydrates, acids. Acid making bacteria usually eat carbohydrates, and this is why they are so bad for your teeth, likewise fermented foods also contain bacteria that do similar things. Acidic foods do not need the help of bacteria; they melt your enamel all by themselves.

3) Food detritus. Carbs frequently get on your teeth form the remains of what you ate. The longer a food is in your mouth, the more likely it is to start dissolving into carbs, and thus damaging your teeth.

4) Eating habits. Why is snacking considered bad for your teeth? Because you cannot brush

your teeth after each and every single bite you take, and you leave no time for your mouth to regenerate, and this slows down the production of saliva as well. This way the proper conditions that are good for the mouth can’t be met, and the acidic foods and by products will dominate your mouth.

Warning Signs

Tooth decay usually appears in hard to reach places, as these places attract the most plaque and food detritus. Likely places are the grooves on molar teeth, as we grind food with these, the gaps between the teeth, and the space between the neck fo the tooth and the grooves of the teeth, right near the gumline. At first, the enamel becomes dmeineralized, and white spots will appear on the tooth. Afterwards the areas will turn brownish, this is already what is considered to be tooth decay, and then a hole or indentation will appear where there was once tooth material. If you feel sensitivity, especially during eating sweets, you probably have a case of bacteria living where they should not. Eating sugar causes higher osmosis pressure, which can cause pain ina  decayed tooth. If you have food stuck in certain places in your mouth, and always the same places, you can be pretty sure that eventually, these places will start to decay. If you do not deal with it right away, the decay can spread all the way down to the nerve, and can be extremely painful. Sensitivity to cold (a sign of dentine hypersensitivity) and heat (a sign of a dead tooth) can all be signs that the damage has gone on for too long. The cavity needs to be filled as soon as possible! How painful the process will be depends entirely on the cavitation, and if the hole is too deep, a root canal treatment will be necessary. Sometimes, an already filled tooth can start to decay along ther filling, too, which si why half year check ups are so vital to the health of your teeth.  

Prevention

The most important step is to brush your teeth twice a day. This is the best thing you can do for your teeth. If you have a lot of hard to clean areas, contact a dentist and get some fissure sealants. Fluoride is the antidote to acid damage and to the production of bacterial cultures. If allowed to become part of our teeth, it will protect against tooth decay. Use fluoridated toothpaste, buy fluoridated salt, etc. But do beware, as overexposure to fluoride can be harmful.

Eat well. Don’t eat sugary foods, overly salty foods or fast food at all. If you are on a diet, you are also at risk, as acidic fruits and vegetables, or too much tea can also cause the enamel to wear down.

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