Tooth decay is one of the most common oral health problems worldwide. Every time you eat, the sugars in the food you consume feed the bacteria that live in your mouth. When these bacteria eat these sugars, they secrete acid that damages your teeth and promotes decay.
Regular brushing and flossing help keep these bacteria at bay, but these habits may not be enough to fully prevent decay. To do this, you will need to better understand the mechanisms behind tooth decay. The following facts will help you get started.
Tooth stains are a common problem and are usually harmless. However, some stains are actually signs of decay. Advanced decay can look like yellow, brown, or black spots on the teeth. Stains that appear in the pits and fissures of your teeth are particularly likely to be decay. You should also be on the lookout for patches of white that were not present before, as these may be early indicators of enamel breakdown.
Your saliva is your body’s best defence against tooth decay. Not only does it help to regulate the pH levels in your mouth, but the calcium and phosphate it contains can also help rebuild damaged enamel. You can take advantage of these natural mechanisms by stimulating your salivary glands with sugarless gum.
You know that certain foods are more likely to cause tooth decay. However, many people do not realize that food timing and frequency matter just as much as food choices when it comes to preventing decay. The more frequently you eat during the day, the harder it is for your saliva to keep up with the acid the bacteria in your mouth will produce. Similarly, eating before bed without brushing your teeth afterwards allows bacteria to feast on the leftover food particles all night, swiftly accelerating decay.
Dental plaque that is not cleaned off your teeth can seep into your gums and cause gum disease. If this condition goes untreated, it will eventually develop into periodontitis and spread into your jawbone as well. Your bone will then begin to break down. As more and more of your bone wears away, your teeth may start to wiggle, shift, and even fall out.
Tooth decay is usually treated with dental fillings, but this is not the only way to treat this problem. Highly advanced decay might require a dental crown, a root canal, or even an extraction. When these treatments are called for, you may need additional work done to restore your smile. Cosmetic options like bridges can be used to replace a missing tooth. Front teeth veneers can also disguise some of the aesthetic problems created by decay.
Children’s tooth enamel is very thin compared to that of adults, so decay can break through it more quickly. Teenagers usually have all their permanent teeth in place, but they also tend to consume lots of sugary drinks and snacks that contribute to decay. Both children and teens also tend to have poor oral hygiene compared to adults.
Many people think that they do not need to worry about tooth decay unless they are experiencing pain. This is a common misconception. In reality, it’s usually only advanced decay that results in pain. This is because, by that point, the decay may be getting close to the tooth’s nerve. Teeth in this condition cannot always be saved, and when they can, it usually takes a root canal to do so. Visiting your dentist regularly allows them to catch developing decay before it becomes severe, giving you a much better chance of keeping your teeth intact.
While very early decay can sometimes be reversed, cavities are rarely discovered at this early stage. By the time they can be detected, they require treatment. Delaying that treatment only gives the decay a chance to grow and destroy more of your tooth structure. If your dentist identifies a cavity at one of your routine dental visits, it is important to get it filled as soon as possible.
Tooth decay is a fact of life for most people, but you can manage it easily with the right dental team on your side. Whether you need a few dental fillings or are interested in veneers to disguise damage from decay, the team at Trillium Smile Dentistry can help. Contact us at 905-828-9894 or book an appointment online to get professional help for your tooth decay today.