Tooth decay causes cavities and destroys tooth surface structure. Tooth decay can expand and affect both the outer coating of the tooth (enamel) and the inner layer of the tooth (dentin). It not only looks unattractive, but can result in serious problems such as toothaches and unwanted tooth extractions if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Dental decay occurs when foods containing sugars and starches are left on the teeth. Bacteria live in the mouth and it causes these foods to turn into acids. The combination of bacteria, acid and food debris combine to form bacterial plaque. Plaque is a sticky, often colorless film that sticks to teeth and is what causes the feeling of ‘furry teeth’. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel and create holes called cavities.
How is tooth decay diagnosed?
Cavities may be discovered during regular dental check-ups. Your dentist will check the surface of teeth for cavities and shadowing, and also look for soft or sticky tooth structure as this may be an early warning sign of decay. Furthermore, Dental x-rays are an excellent tool that can show cavities in between the teeth and under the gums before they become visible to the eye.
Ways to help prevent Tooth Decay
1. Visit Your Dentist
Many times cavities can only be detected by a dentist or a dental X-ray. Visiting your dentist for regular check ups, ideally twice a year, and cleanings are very important in preventing cavities and keeping a healthy smile.
2. Brush Regularly
In the fight against cavities, it is essential that you brush your teeth properly at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride.
3. Floss Daily
Food debris gets caught in between our teeth when you eat. If the debris is not removed, it can possibly lead to cavities. Flossing everyday is the best way to keep food debris from getting stuck between the teeth.
4. Try And Eat Healthy
A healthy diet plays an important role in good dental health. Eating nutritional snacks and limiting the amount of sugary drinks will help to prevent plaque from forming on the teeth.
5. Chew (Sugarless) Gum
Believe it or not, chewing certain sugarless gums can actually help to prevent cavities by increasing the flow of saliva in your mouth and helping to remove excess sugar from the surfaces of the teeth.
How do I know if I have tooth decay?
In advanced stages of tooth decay, you might experience sensitivity or discomfort to hot and cold foods, as well as sweet drinks and sugary food. Other signs of tooth decay are visible pits, darkness of color and/or holes in the teeth.
If you suspect you may have a cavity, or have any questions or concerns, please contact us for an appointment soon!