Dental decay is damage to the tooth structure that occurs when bacteria in the mouth create acids that attack the enamel and dentin, therefore breaking down the tooth structure. While research has shown that some people may have a genetic predisposition to cavities, tooth decay is still preventable if you avoid the following.
Not Brushing Teeth Regularly
The American Dental Association recommends that children and adults should brush twice a day for a minimum of two minutes, each time using a fluoride toothpaste. Brushing helps to wash away food and plaque, a sticky film that develops on the teeth and contains millions of bacteria.
If plaque is not removed, it turns into tartar, a crusty deposit that traps stains on the teeth. Tartar is more resistant to brushing than plaque and can be difficult to remove without help from your dentist. Plaque and tartar can also work together to eat away at the teeth, causing decay over time.
In addition to brushing regularly, the ADA recommends cleaning between teeth with floss at least once a day. This can be done either morning or night but should be done at least once within a 24-hour cycle. Failure to floss allows plaque to build up in the spaces between the teeth, which can lead to problems like decay, tartar, and periodontal (gum) disease.
Going even just a couple days without flossing can cause a thick layer of plaque to form. Once this plaque hardens into tartar, cavities can develop between the teeth. According to a number of oral care professionals, flossing does about 40 percent of the work required to remove sticky plaque.
Eating Sugary Foods
Foods and beverages high in sugar and other carbohydrates significantly contribute to dental decay. While sugar on its own is not the culprit, the damaging chain of events that occur following the intake of sugar can be to blame.
Bacteria in the mouth feeds on sugar from foods and drinks. When bacteria and sugar come together, they produce acids that dissolve tooth enamel. Regular loss of enamel can lead to cavities and an acid attack in the mouth can last up to 20 minutes. This means that each time you take a sip of sugary soda, the acid damage begins all over again.
Having Dry Mouth
Xerostomia, otherwise known as dry mouth, is a condition where the salivary glands in the mouth do not form adequate saliva. In some cases, dry mouth is caused by an underlying condition, like Sjogren’s syndrome. Other causes include not drinking enough fluids, eating dry foods, sleeping with your mouth open, or taking certain medications.
When there is not enough saliva production to neutralize harmful acids, bacteria can continue to grow unhindered. In addition to increasing your risk of tooth decay, dry mouth can also contribute to gum disease.
Prevent Tooth Decay
Brushing and flossing regularly, limiting sugary foods, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding bad habits like smoking can help drastically reduce your risk of developing tooth decay.
Visit Your Dentist
It is also important to see your dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings. Get in touch with the team at Vero Elite Dentistry in Vero Beach Fl today about your dental concerns or to schedule an exam.