All About Tooth Decay

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					                               All About Tooth Decay

   What Causes Tooth Decay?

Bacteria are the cause of tooth decay (teeth rotting). Our mouths are full of bacteria, which settle
on our teeth in plaque, a goo of proteins, saliva and food debris. Bacteria are particularly fond of
foods containing sugars and carbohydrates. A special favorite of bacteria are foods, which tend
to stick to teeth like peanut butter, caramel, and honey.

These foods provide bacteria with energy to grow, reproduce, and create enamel-eating acid. The
bacteria produce acid from food particles left on our teeth. It is this acid which eats into the tooth
enamel creating cavities. Although, the teeth have a moderate ability to repair tooth enamel by
re-mineralizing the affected enamel with minerals from saliva. Unfortunately, when the rate of
destruction by acid exceeds this rate of repair, cavities form.

Normally, the acid eating into tooth enamel is not painful. Left untreated, however, acid eats a
hole through the enamel into the underlying dentine and pulp layers of the tooth. This does cause
pain and left untreated the cavity will eventually destroy the nerve of the tooth. Sometimes, if the
destruction is severe, the tooth is not fixable and has to be pulled.

These pictures show how small cavities get bigger until               Hole in a tooth that had to be
they reach the nerves of the teeth.                               pulled
Early cavity in the groove of a tooth where food may stick

   What Can You Do To Reduce Your Chances of Getting Cavities?

It becomes simple and easy to significantly reduce your risk of getting cavities by good oral
hygiene. Brushing removes bacteria as well as the food debris bacteria feed on.

But how long to brush? When brushing it is crucial to brush all tooth surfaces which takes at
least 2-3 minutes. Unfortunately, most people only brush for less than 45 seconds and miss a
large percentage of their tooth surfaces.

Flossing is crucial to preventing cavities when brushing has limited efficiency. Flossing reaches
the nearly 35 percent of your mouth that your toothbrush cannot reach. In these areas, bacteria
live happily producing acid.
   To Prevent Cavities, Watch What You Eat

Tooth decay is the most prevalent human disorder. When you eat meals or snacks containing
large amounts sugars, carbohydrates, or "sticky" foods which tend to get stuck to teeth, make
sure to follow the meal with water to help wash off food particles remaining on teeth. It is best if
you brush your teeth immediately after the meal.

The timing of your snacks is crucial to preventing cavities. The acid produced by bacteria is
neutralized by saliva and cleared from the mouth. After the acid is cleared minerals in saliva
crystallize on the enamel to begin to repair areas damaged by the acid.

   Decay Can Exist Under Old Fillings

Sometimes, all the brushing and flossing you do cannot prevent teeth decay from occurring
under old fillings. When this occurs, symptoms from cold sensitivity to deep aching pain may
arise. To prevent this, exams can check for decay around fillings and the early replacement may
prevent larger problems from occurring.

These old amalgams have been leaking with bacteria getting under them. Thanks to new
technologies, the decay can be removed, the teeth sealed and re-strengthened with white colored

   Use Fluoride to Prevent Cavities

Fluoride is a wonder of modern dentistry. Fluoride incorporates itself into tooth enamel
strengthening the enamel and making it more resistant to acid attacks. Most adults and children
receive adequate amounts of fluoride in their toothpastes.

   Why should visit Your Dentist on a Regular Basis?

Dental problems often remain silent creating pain only after significant damage has occurred.
Dentists can identify many of these potentially devastating problems before they cause major
damage. In addition, dentists can detect places in your mouth that you miss when brushing.

These areas are prime targets for cavity formation. In areas where cavities are just beginning to
form, dentists can use high concentration fluoride treatments to prevent the need for the dental
drills and fillings.

Things to remember:
“As sooner cavities are detected, easier for treatment and less pain for you” and “Cavities
are highly preventable”!

Want additional information or have questions about this topic? Ask us!

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