We are told from a very young age that we must brush our teeth at least twice daily and avoid eating or drinking anything that contains too much sugar. However, there is often a lot of miscommunication about the cause and effect of tooth decay. According to the World Health Organization, tooth decay is the most common non-communicable disease – something we all need to worry about. Therefore, learning more about tooth decay can help you avoid worse dental problems and improve your overall oral health.
Here are some facts about tooth decay:
Inside our mouths, there are many kinds of bacteria, some of which are good, and some are bad. Although we clean our teeth and mouth every day, bacteria are always present; they are essential for our oral health. However, problems arise when these bacteria get out of balance. Any leftover food particles, along with saliva, create the perfect environment for plaque formation. The bad bacteria will feed on the starch and sugar in these plaques, and once consumed, they produce acid that, when left on your teeth, will erode their surface, creating small holes known as cavities.
Dental cavities take time to appear; however, early warning signs such as sensitivity in the affected tooth, or a dentist can spot a cavity easily before they become visible. Therefore, routine visits to your dentist will help identify cavities early and allow for timely treatment.
A filling plugs the hole left by the acid from the bacteria. If a filling is not done in a timely manner, bacteria will make their way down to the living cells at the core. Gradually, the bacteria will kill the tooth.
A necrotic tooth (a black tooth) will need extraction. However, a dental infection does not stop once the tooth dies. An abscess will form under the tooth, and the infection will spread to the rest of your mouth.
Although tooth decay has the potential to wreck your oral and physical health, it can be easily prevented. Thoroughly brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste will not only remove plaque buildup but also strengthen your tooth enamel. Avoiding an excess of sugary foods is key to maintaining healthy teeth. Lastly, visiting your dentist twice a year will help you stay ahead of any dental problems.