You probably know that a cavity is a hole in your tooth. But do you know that a cavity is the product of the tooth decay process over time? Tooth decay is not something that anyone wants to deal with, but most people do at least once throughout their lives. In fact, by the time Americans reach the age of 65, 96% have tooth decay.
Our mouths are incubators; there’s a ton of bacteria thriving in each of our mouths at any given time. Plaque is a harmful form of colorless bacteria that can build up on your teeth. If you eat and drink a lot of acidic and sugary things without brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash every day, you can set yourself up for plaque buildup, and therefore, the tooth decaying process. Bacteria turn sugars and starches into acids, which can get at your tooth’s outer surface, and then the enamel, causing it to wear away over the long-term.
When a tooth is exposed to acidic and sugary foods and drinks frequently, the acid “attacks” and causes the enamel to lose its precious minerals. A white spot may appear where minerals have been lost. This is a one of the early signs of decay to look for. But don’t worry, at this point, tooth decay can be stopped or reversed. Enamel is self-repairing, meaning that it can heal itself by using minerals from saliva, fluoride, or other sources.
However, if you don’t do things to prevent the tooth decay process from continuing, more minerals are lost. Over time, enamel will be weakened or even destroyed, which will form cavities. A cavity is permanent damage that a dentist has to repair with a filling because it is a hole in your enamel.
Fluoride is essential to preventing tooth decay. It is a mineral that can prevent tooth decay from progressing even further. It helps to prevent mineral loss on your teeth and can work to reduce the amount of acid in your mouth. The easiest way to get fluoride is by choosing a toothpaste that contains fluoride. There are also fluoride mouthwashes and tablets available, but you don’t necessarily have to go overboard with the fluoride. A little is just enough.
Do you know where harmful bacteria accumulates? In the crevices of your teeth. This typically means that your molars and premolars are the teeth that are the most susceptible to tooth decay. These teeth have the most crevices of all of your teeth and that makes it easier for food particles and harmful bacteria to build-up over time. These areas are harder to reach with a toothbrush, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re focusing on these areas when you’re brushing.
Check your dental fillings, caps, and crowns regularly to make sure that your dental work has remained intact and is undamaged. When a filling weakens, plaque can build up more easily and cause further tooth decay. When you go to the dentist, he or she will do this, but you should also keep a close watch on it because these areas are more prone to dental cavities than other areas of your mouth. You can also ask your dentist about sealants, a thin, clear protectant that helps to stop early forms of decay.
You may think that you can prevent tooth decay on your own, but you can never clean your teeth as well as your dentist does. A professional cleaning removes plaque that you can’t get when you brush and floss at home on a daily basis. They also can check for any warnings signs of tooth decay, which you might not catch unless there’s a visible white spot on your teeth. Sometimes, the dentist will give you a fluoride treatment too, which pampers your teeth and helps them fight their own battle against harmful bacteria, acid, and plaque.
Preventing your teeth from decay can be difficult, especially when brushing and flossing can’t fully prevent decay from starting. Adopting a healthy diet and regularly visiting the dentist can help set you on the right track of tooth decay prevention. You can even maintain your pearly whites on the go with Brushee, so when you think you don’t have time, there’s no excuse not to freshen up your mouth and enhance your confidence that you won’t be affected by tooth decay!