Tooth decay is a condition wherein the enamel protecting the tooth is broken down due to bacteria build-up. When the enamel of the tooth is destroyed, the tooth's thickness and structure can degenerate, and lead to tooth cavities, or holes in the tooth. It can affect both children and adults.
What Can Cause Tooth Decay?
There is an abundance of bacteria that live in the mouth. There are some specific types of bacteria which react with sugar, forming a sticky substance that build up on the surface of the teeth. This sticky enamel is called dental plaque. As one consumes more sugary foods, more dental plaque will cover more surfaces of the teeth. The dental plaque produces acids that destroy the enamel of the tooth. With lack of proper oral hygiene such as regular toothbrushing or cleaning, the dental plaque will continue to destroy the tooth's enamel until it reaches the dentin, the layer just beneath the enamel. This is when tooth cavities will start to appear.
What Are The Symptoms Of Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay cannot be easily seen, unless it has already turned into a cavity. The symptoms are usually related to sensations felt in the mouth, such as toothache, sensitivity to hot or cold drinks, or pain when eating sweets. These are possible indications of dental plaque building up. It is best to pay a visit to the dentist to determine if there is indeed an occurrence of tooth decay.
What Are The Treatments For Tooth Decay?
If the tooth decay has not developed into a cavity yet, dentists can remove the decayed surface and fill the destroyed structure with dental filling. However, if the decay has reached the nerve of the tooth, a dental root canal may be performed.
How Can You Prevent Tooth Decay?
Aside from receiving regular, professional Rockville dental care, here are other ways to prevent tooth decay.
1. Limit the intake of sugary food and drinks. One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay is to ensure that the bacteria in the mouth do not interact with leftover sugar from food. Avoid eating too much sugary food, especially when it is not possible to brush your teeth afterwards.
2. Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing your teeth ensures that any plaque building up in the surface is diminished, if not removed.
3. Make flossing a daily habit. Brushing your teeth can remove plaque in the visible surfaces of your teeth. However, not all toothbrushes can reach the spaces in between your teeth. Flossing will help you clean the areas of your mouth that your toothbrush cannot reach.
4. Use mouth rinse if floss is not available. Swish a good antimicrobial mouth rinse as an alternative to flossing.
5. Chew unsweetened gum with xylitol. The human saliva naturally contains enzymes that regulate the number of bacteria residing in the mouth. Chewing can stimulate the salivary glands, and help produce saliva for oral bacteria regulation. Xylitol, on the hand, is a sugar alcohol that is proven to hep in preventing tooth decay.