Most adults are aware that tooth decay causes cavities, but are not as clear on what causes tooth decay. Your teeth first start to become decayed through a process called demineralization. This means that an acidic condition inside of the mouth pulls mineral content out of the calcified tissue of the teeth, which are its dentin and enamel. The acids that contribute to demineralization are bacterial waste that live within dental plaque. The bacteria that causes tooth decay are living organisms that are mainly present in dietary sugars. These include fructose, lactose, glucose, sucrose, and all cooked starches.
Keep Bacteria at Bay by Reducing Dental Plaque
Dental plaque is the formation of sticky deposits on teeth that allow bacteria to form and produce waste products that eat away at the teeth. It can form over time when you neglect to brush and floss your teeth regularly. Consuming an unhealthy diet can also lead to plaque forming on your teeth. If you already have a large build-up of plaque, you may want to consider having Dr. Vanama of Discovery Dental perform deep cleaning on your top and bottom rows of teeth. Since this reduces the plaque present in your mouth, it also decreases the likelihood of bacterial waste causing tooth decay.
Best Practices for Avoiding Tooth Decay
After you eat a meal or snack high in sugar, oral bacteria forms within minutes and produces the acids that eventually lead to tooth decay. Here are some steps you can take to prevent that from happening:
- Replace natural sugars with artificial sweeteners.
- Brush and floss as soon as soon as possible after consuming sugar. If it will be several hours before you are able to do this, at least rinse your mouth with water.
- If you must consume sugary foods and drinks, do so as quickly as possible. Prolonging the process only exposes your teeth to a higher risk of decay.
- Brush and floss your teeth a minimum of twice per day or preferably after every meal. Use an angled toothbrush to reach the back teeth that can be difficult to clean and be sure to use medicated mouthwash as well.
- Keep your bi-annual dental cleaning appointment. This gives Dr. Vanama the opportunity to detect problems with tooth decay as soon as possible.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Discovery Dental if you have additional questions about preventing tooth decay.