Did you know that the term “tooth decay” is actually one and the same as our childhood fear that our parents threatened us with getting if we ate candy… cavities? This tooth problem is actually on the rise in our society, today.  In this article you will learn its causes, but also learn some ways that we can prevent this type of infection.

The main cause of tooth decay and cavities is bacteria that is left unattended to grow in the mouth. The way that this bacterium causes so much damage is by creating an acid that eats away at the tooth surface (enamel).  By slowly dissolving the enamel on your teeth, plaque then has the ability to form and grow.  The build up of plaque starts creating holes in teeth because minerals are stripped away from the outer layer of enamel. This is basically the first stage of a cavity, but if the present bacteria- acid mixture reaches the next layer of teeth, the dentin, a larger problem will occur.

The dentin is the second defense before getting down to the tooth pulp, which is where all the nerves and blood vessels are contained (that’s when the decay starts to hurt). When the dentin becomes infected it can lead to inflammation, then the worst-case scenario, a pulp infection. The dentin is a much softer, more malleable layer of the tooth than the enamel, and so it is vital to take proper care of it.

Unfortunately there are some dental conditions that can add stress to the teeth and also cause tooth decay. Some of these are tooth grinding, dry mouth conditions where the mouth does not produce enough saliva, or poorly formed enamel. The good news about these conditions is that if treated by a dentist they will not become harmful. Truly, however, frequent dental visits and care are significant to prevent tooth decay and to achieve overall mouth health.

The most beneficial thing you can do to counteract tooth decay is to keep your mouth clean by perfecting your daily dental habits. For basic care it is necessary to brush teeth at least twice a day, and preferably after meals. It is also very important to floss; both of these steps will not allow build up and obviously fight off bacteria in the mouth.

Our diets are also important for a healthy mouth. Today we eat more and more foods that are high in sugar, flavorings, colorings, and processed chemicals. The issue with this modern day diet is that we are missing essential nutrients that support healthy teeth and bones, and allow further risk of breakdown, as sugar especially is a main cause of cavities. To counteract this problem, increase the intake of super foods like milk and green vegetables that provide nutrients and help the teeth to slowly grow stronger.

Keep in mind that even with good brushing and flossing habits and a healthy diet, regular dental visits are a must! Dental cleanings clear plaque from your mouth, but also clean harder to reach areas that we may miss. We don’t know decay is forming until we feel it!

As you can see, the prevention of tooth decay is something that is totally manageable with a little bit of effort. Simply examining your daily dental health, keeping conscious of your diet, and becoming friendly with your dentist can make a significant change for the better, and keep your smile beautiful for years to come!