Bacteria causes tooth decay. This main culprit is called Streptococcus mutans. The S. mutans can stay alive in an acidic environment and withstand attacks from the body’s defenses. It produces acid from the sugars you consume. The acid can also cause the phosphorus and calcium in the teeth to dissolve. Every time you eat foods with sugar, you are feeding S. mutans. The plaque’s acid content increases sharply and then returns to harmless levels after about 20 minutes. Decay weakens and makes the enamel more porous, eventually breaking it. The damage then spreads into the softer, bonelike material underneath the enamel or the dentin. If not stopped immediately, the decay will move into the tooth’s pulp that contains blood vessels and nerves. You will feel pain and need to undergo root canal therapy to save your tooth. The body has its own defenses against decay-causing bacteria. The saliva washes away acid-producing bacteria. It also contains antibodies that hinder the bacteria. Saliva has chemicals that kill bacteria and neutralize the acid by destroying bacterial cell walls. The teeth can also repair themselves over time. Phosphorus and calcium are dissolved away when acid levels are high, but these minerals return later to remineralize the tooth. In other words, the enamel weakens and restores itself as the mouth’s level of acid rises and falls. The remineralization process occurs faster and creates a stronger enamel structure if the saliva contains fluoride. Tooth decay is preventable. Regular dental visits can help catch tooth decay before it becomes a serious issue. Here are some ways to avoid cavities and prevent tooth decay. Dental Visits
You should visit your dentist at least two times a year. During your appointment, you will undergo x-rays and a comprehensive examination to determine any dental problems and prevent it from getting worse, if there is any. Dental visits can help you avoid dental problems in the first place. Flossing and Brushing You should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. Food particles won’t be trapped between the teeth. This can help prevent cavities from developing. You can also use mouthwash. Those with chlorine dioxide can help kill dangerous bacteria in the mouth and maintain strong teeth. You can add it to your routine of flossing, brushing and visiting the dentist to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Clean Your Tongue You also have to clean your tongue daily. Use a high-quality tongue cleaner to remove bacteria that stay on the rough top surface of the tongue. These bacteria can cause bad breath or halitosis and harm your dental health. Dental Sealants Dental sealants have a plastic resin that attaches to the grooves of chewing surfaces. These grooves are filled when the teeth are sealed. The surface becomes smoother and prevents plaque from developing. Dental sealants protect the chewing surfaces, but you still need to floss to prevent decay between teeth completely. Practice Healthy Eating You need proper nutrients to keep your gums and teeth healthy. A well-balanced diet will provide your gums and teeth with the nutrients and minerals necessary to stay strong and avoid infections. Many drinks and foods that contain starch and sugar work with bacteria in the mouth to wear down the enamel and form plaque on the teeth. Coffee has tannic acids that wear down the enamel and can stain the teeth. Lemons, oranges, limes and citrus fruits contain citric acid that can erode the enamel. Soda has carbonation, acids, and sugar that can cause tooth decay and enamel erosion. Candy has plenty of sugar that can cause cavities to form. Avoid or reduce consumption of these foods and drinks. Fluoride from toothpaste and water can help in the fight against plaque. You have to take good care of your teeth and gums to prevent toothache, minimize dental bills and maintain a beautiful smile. Many people, however, don’t pay attention to their dental health. Crowded or crooked teeth can lead you to have a gum disease, which can result in tooth loss later on. You can’t concentrate on what you are doing when you’re enduring a toothache. Straight teeth improve not only your looks but also your health. If you don’t want to lose any tooth, be sure to follow the tips stated above! If you do have concerns about your oral health or need a dental appointment, be sure to contact our Burlington Dentist Office. Our team takes dental health seriously and would like to help you achieve the best smile possible.