Tooth decay is a destructive, multi-stage process which damages teeth. For something which affects such a small part of the body, the results of decay can be serious – healthy teeth are a critical part of your overall well-being, and an unhealthy mouth can affect you in other ways.
Here’s How Dreaded Tooth Decay Happens
The formation of plaque – a sticky film formed by bacteria which feed on sugars that aren’t cleaned off your teeth after eating or drinking sweet foods or beverages – occurs, and if it isn’t removed while soft, hardens. Hard plaque provides the ideal environment for bacteria to reside and hide.
Plaque damages your teeth. The enamel which surrounds your teeth is made of minerals, and though it’s strong, it isn’t impervious to the effects of an acidic environment – and plaque contains acids. If the enamel gets worn through, these acids, and the bacteria harboured in the plaque, can attack the inner core of your teeth, which is made of a bony material called dentin, which is weaker than enamel. This is how you end up developing a painful cavity in your teeth.
It gets worse. If left unchecked, bacteria and acids bore through your teeth, going from one to the next, even decimating their innermost part, which contains nerves and pulpy tissue. At this advanced stage, pain and sensitivity are present, and sometimes pus forms as a result of the influx of white blood cells sent by the immune system to fight the infection.
Now That you Know How it Happens –
Here’s How to Avoid it in 5 Steps!
Step 1: Brush your teeth with high-quality toothpaste, at least twice daily, for a full two minutes, dividing the time into four, 30-second intervals, spread throughout the four areas, or quadrants, of your mouth. (A quality electric toothbrush includes a timer to make watching the clock unnecessary.)
Step 2: Don’t forget to floss between every tooth. Use floss which doesn’t irritate your gums, or a good quality power flosser. In the event that you can’t brush after eating, rinse your mouth well with water. Your dentist may suggest an antibacterial mouthwash if you are at a higher risk for tooth decay.
Step 3: Remember to visit your dentist on a regular basis – he or she can see into areas of your mouth which you can’t. In addition to the benefit of regular cleanings, a professional oral examination helps identify problematic areas before damage becomes severe. You can speak with your dentist about tooth sealants – a coating which is applied to teeth to protect the enamel against acids and plaque.
Step 4: Avoid foods that are bad for your teeth. Many snack foods – crisps, cookies and candy – tend to get stuck between teeth, in addition to being hard on the gums and causing plaque and decay, thanks to their high sugar content. On the other hand, fresh fruits and vegetables increase salivary flow, flushing away bacteria, and gums sweetened with xylitol – a sweet substance often derived from birch bark – may actually help protect teeth from bacteria. In addition, some research indicates that optimum Vitamin D levels are linked to reduced tooth decay. Vitamin D can be supplemented – but the best, free source is exposure to sunlight.
If your personal health and schedule permits it, avoid constant snacking or drinking – every time you eat or drink, mouth bacteria gets disrupted. Remember to rinse after eating (or drinking anything sweet) if you can’t brush.
Step 5: Last – by no means least – Invest in a high quality electric toothbrush – some Oral-B electric toothbrushes are proven to remove twice as much plaque compared to manual brushing, and come recommended by the British Dental Health Foundation
Finally, talk to your dentist about antibacterial treatments. Some people are particularly susceptible to tooth decay. If you’re one of them, your dentist may suggest antibacterial mouth rinses to help reduce the population of tooth-damaging bacteria which reside in your mouth.
Though advanced tooth decay is painful, unpleasant and costly to address, it can largely be prevented by following common sense measures: Take care of your mouth; eat healthy; and see your dentist regularly.
We found very interesting and somewhat unusual research that suggest cheese may help prevent cavities. We all know that calcium rich dairy products such as cheese are important for strong and healthy bones. But this new research suggests there is more benefits than just improved bone health, increased PH and compounds within the cheese may further protect tooth enamel.