Tooth decay (i.e. a cavity) is not only painful; it is also a royal pain in the butt! To better understand tooth decay it is important to understand your mouth’s environment, and how those unpleasant brown and black spots of decay actually arise. To start, your mouth is a den of bacteria. In other words, hundreds of bacteria variations live on your gums, teeth, tongue, throat, and inside cheeks. Some bacteria are actually “good” for you, while others can be harmful to your health. It is the “bad” bacteria that triggers tooth decay. So, what is tooth decay? Well, tooth decay is the result of a bacterial infection in your mouth. More specifically, tooth decay occurs when “bad” bacteria invade your mouth, causing your enamel to disintegrate, and your teeth to rot.
These type of bacteria feed on the sugars, starches, and acids in your food. Over time these sugars and acids, create pits (holes) in your teeth, which leads to cavities. Moreover, highly acidic foods strip the minerals (needed to protect your teeth’s enamel) from your body, causing your teeth to decay. In fact, it is quite common to see a white spot on the affected tooth. This spot not only signals the loss of minerals, it also one of the first signs of decay. During the earlier stages, tooth decay can be halted, and/or reversed. Saliva and fluoride treatments (i.e. from toothpaste and mouth rinses) can restore loss minerals, and repair damaged enamel. Unfortunately, if the decay is not treated, you will continue to lose minerals.
Eventually this loss of minerals will weaken and destroy your enamel, increasing your risk of tooth decay. If you in the midst of a full-fledge cavity, your dentist can stop the decay and repair your affected tooth with a filling or crown. It is important to schedule regular dental exams and cleanings (i.e. every 6 to 12 months). In addition, make sure your toothbrush not only fits comfortably inside of your mouth, but also reaches to the back of your mouth (throat area). If you are interested in learning how to prevent tooth decay, you have come to the right place. This article will teach you how to obtain and maintain healthy teeth – free of decay.
Listed below are helpful ways to prevent tooth decay:
Brush Your Teeth after Eating
You can prevent or delay tooth decay, by brushing your teeth with a soft, rounded bristle, following every meal. Do not brush too hard, or you will damage your gums, and/or teeth. If you cannot brush after eating, brush at least twice a day.
Use Toothpaste and/or Mouth Rinse with Fluoride
You can also prevent tooth decay by using toothpaste and/or mouth rinse with fluoride. Fluoride prevents tooth decay, and repairs damaged enamel.
Purchase a New Toothbrush Periodically
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot use the same toothbrush indefinitely. Why? Well, bacteria can collect on the bristles, which can re-enter your mouth, causing tooth decay. In addition, over time, toothbrush bristles wear down, rendering them ineffective. Purchase a new toothbrush with soft, rounded bristles every 3 to 6 months.
Yes, floss! A highly effective way to prevent tooth decay is to floss every day. If possible, floss after every meal. If you cannot floss every time you eat something, floss at least twice a day.
Brush Your Tongue
This may not seem like a pleasant idea, but if you want to avoid developing a cavity, you will want to brush your tongue with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Why? Well, brushing your tongue removes “bad” bacteria from your mouth, prevents tooth decay, and freshens your breath as an added bonus.
Nosh on Healthy Foods
Snacking on healthy low-sugar, low-acid, and low-starch foods is an excellent way to prevent tooth decay. Avoid those pesky cavities by snacking on fresh fruits, raw veggies, and unsweetened yogurt.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. (2014). The tooth decay process: How to reverse it and avoid a cavity. Retrieved from http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/OralHealthInformation/ChildrensOralHealth/ToothDecayProcess.htm
WebMD. (2014). Tooth decay – Topic overview. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tc/tooth-decay-topic-overview