In your lifetime, it’s likely you will be exposed to tooth decay and eventually cavities.
Decay is common and occurs when certain types of bacteria appear in the mouth and start attacking the natural enamel that lives on your teeth. A misconception about tooth decay is that it’s only caused by sugar. Although sugar is a large culprit for the break down in enamel, decay can also be caused by carbohydrates such as bananas, pretzels or crisps.
The way decay and cavities occur is by bacteria in your mouth turning sugars in your food into acids. These acids start their work on dissolving the calcium and phosphate crystals inside the tooth and eventually, without care, this will turn into a cavity that needs to be treated by a dentist. Left untreated, this decay will get worse and destroy the tooth right down to the nerve causing tooth loss and severe pain. Types of decay are grouped in two categories:
Children – In babies it develops quickly and destroys the enamel fast. The root cause is being given a bottle of milk or juice when going to bed as the teeth are exposed to carbohydrates overnight. In children problems occur when the parent doesn’t clean the child’s teeth. It powers through the enamel in a matter of months and leaves huge damage.
Adults – As adults age, they are more susceptible to receding gums and xerostomia or dry mouth. This decreases the level of protection on the teeth and increases the risk of decay. Other causes amongst adults is when decay forms beneath tooth repairs such as crowns where food can slip through and begin to rot.
Simple steps to take to help prevent decay beginning to occur are:
• Brush twice a day
• Floss daily
• Reduce your intake of sugar and fermentable carbohydrates
• Chewing sugarless gums
The most important method you can use is visiting your dentist regularly so decay can be located early, treated and commonly reversed.