Tooth decay happens when the structure of your tooth gets worn away. This typically happens when acid eats away at the hard surface of your teeth called enamel. The acid that starts this process can come from a number of places including food and beverages, but it can also be a byproduct of bacteria that is present in your mouth. The acid coming in contact with your teeth can cause, what is commonly known as cavities.
Decay that is left unattended can make its way into deeper layers of your teeth, and if it isn’t removed can cause tooth aches, infections and more. Because tooth decay is irreversible, you should see your dental hygienist at least every six months, and you should maintain good home oral health care habits.
Since acid is the main culprit for tooth decay, there are two major components to acidity in your mouth that you should be aware of. Those are:
- Acidic Food and Drinks
Many foods and beverages contain acid. Your favorite candies, salad dressings and sodas likely have acid in them. This acid is put in direct contact with your teeth and can start softening your enamel immediately.
- Acid as a Result of Bacteria
The bacteria in your mouth eats sugar. As a byproduct, the bacteria produces acid which begins to soften your enamel. This is why many dentists tell you to avoid sugar. It is not that the sugar itself will decay your teeth, but the acid produced by the bacteria eating the sugar will.
How To Protect Against Tooth Decay
As your dentist, here at Oxford Dental Care, one of our main goals is to keep your teeth free from decay. This allows you to keep a beautiful smile for your whole life. Minimizing tooth decay is really an educational process, and when understood, does not take too much additional time in your day. Seeing as many people rate a smile as the first feature they notice on someone, we think that a couple extra minutes each day is a worthwhile investment. Here are a few things to remember to help minimize tooth decay:
- Remove Sugary Foods Quickly
Don’t let sugar or food sit on your teeth for long periods of time. This allows the bacteria in your mouth to turn the sugar into acid which will start the process of tooth decay.
- Neutralize Acids Quickly
Be mindful of foods that are highly acidic and don’t brush immediately after you have consumed something acidic. Instead use a fluoridated mouthwash to swish around in your mouth to remineralize the teeth. Even swishing water is a better option than brushing immediately after consuming something highly acidic.
- Floss Daily
Flossing is not only important for the health of your gums, it is also extremely important when it comes to minimizing tooth decay. The majority of tooth decay occurs interproximally or in other words, in between the teeth. The reasoning for this is because food is often allowed to sit there for extended periods of time.
- Be Proactive About Your Oral Health
This includes not only brushing and flossing on a regular basis, but also seeing your dental hygienist on a regular basis. This will allow the hygienist to remove plaque from your teeth, and will allow the dentist to do an exam so that you can catch problems when they are small which will stop them from spreading.
Take Precautions if You are Prone to Tooth Decay
If you have teeth that are prone to decay, have a history of tooth decay or eat a lot of acidic foods there are several precautions you should take. First and foremost, be sure to be as thorough as possible about removing acidic foods from your teeth as quickly as possible. This means rinsing with water or mouthwash and brushing as quickly as possible. Second, use a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste. This will harden the enamel before problems become too bad. Third, have your teeth cleaned by a dentist or a dental hygienist regularly. This will help get rid of areas where the bacteria has built up.
We work with each and every one of our patients to help them put together a plan for optimal oral health. This includes plans for avoiding tooth decay. We want your teeth to last a lifetime! Give us a call today at (208)529-0420, or click the button below to request an appointment if you have an emergency and need an exceptional dentist in Idaho Falls!