Tooth decay is a very common problem among people of all ages. It is a symptom of what we eat and drink and there are steps we can all take to help prevent it.
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is the destruction of the structure of your teeth, both at the enamel and dentin levels. When you eat foods with sugar and starch, those foods interact with bacteria present in your mouth. The interaction of bacteria and sugar and starches generates an acid that works against your teeth.
The most common symptom of tooth decay is cavities. Cavities happen when the acid generated by food remains on your teeth as plaque. Over time that acid eats into your teeth and creates holes.
Steps to Prevent Tooth Decay
There are many things that you can do to help prevent tooth decay.
Brush Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth removes acid-producing food particles and reduces the amount of plaque that can build up on your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, if not after every meal. Just make sure to brush your teeth properly.
In an effort to increase the effectiveness of your brushing, use a toothpaste that has fluoride. Fluoride can help remove bacteria from your mouth, reducing the acid that can lead to tooth decay.
Flossing can help remove bits of food that get stuck between your teeth. That food leads to acid that can decay your teeth. Here are some tips on how to floss properly:
- Wrap floss around each of your middle fingers. Leave yourself an inch or two of floss in between each finger to work with.
Hold the floss in between your thumbs and index fingers, moving the floss gently up and down between your teeth.
- Be sure to go beneath your gum line. To do so, gently wrap the floss around the base of the tooth. If your movement is too forceful you could bruise or cut delicate gum tissue.
- Use a clean segment of floss after every tooth.
- If you don’t like traditional floss, consider using an interdental cleaner.
Choose a mouthwash that contains fluoride and rinse your mouth at least once a day. Rinsing your mouth can help remove some of the bacteria in your mouth, just make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle, and wait 30 minutes before eating again.
Watch What You Eat
Avoiding foods that are high in sugar and starch can help prevent acid that leads to tooth decay and cavities. Foods like candy, chips, and pretzels are some of the worst for the overall health of your teeth.
If foods are sticky, be sure to brush soon afterward – they are more likely to lead to attach to your teeth, and if left unattended can lead to decay.
Visit Your Dentist
Regular check-ins and professional cleanings are one of the best ways to prevent tooth decay. Professional cleanings rid your teeth of damaging plaque and help keep your teeth healthy.
Your dentist will be able to examine your teeth and recommend steps to keep your teeth healthy. Let us know if we can help!
Can Tooth Decay Be Reversed?
Tooth decay has been studied thoroughly and there are new interesting finds coming out all the time. Decay used to be a much more common problem, but with the addition of fluoride to water has helped curb tooth decay. Certain chewing gums contain chemicals that can help fight mouth bacteria.
New studies are looking into toothpastes and mouthwashes that might actually heal early decay and close small cavities.
Currently, tooth decay can only be slowed and prevented, but someday soon it might be able to be reversed!