Tooth decay occurs as a result of carbohydrate-rich foods getting trapped between our teeth and not being completely removed when we floss or brush.
Tooth decay is a gradual process that happens over time. Enamel softening or deterioration usually results in a defect in the tooth, this is known as a cavity.
When cavities are left to degenerate, the defects or holes in our tooth can increase over time and ultimately destroy the whole tooth or in extreme cases spread to other teeth.
We will look into a few of the most common causes of tooth decay.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is undoubtedly the single most significant cause of deterioration in teeth. When we fail to brush our teeth regularly, floss in between meals, brush our tongue and make use of mouth wash we’re setting ourselves up for tooth decay.
This is public knowledge, but we feel the need to reiterate that brushing our teeth twice a day is non-negotiable; it is ideal to brush after meals and make sure each brushing session lasts for at least two minutes.
Improper oral hygiene and tooth decay go hand-in-hand, by practicing improper oral hygiene we are on a fast track to suffer from tooth decay.
It is essential to keep in mind that when we consume meals that cling to our teeth, they are more likely to contribute to the decay of the tooth.
Sugary substances and starchy foods are significant promoters of plaque, the more sugar we consume, the more harmful acids we produce in our mouth and they ultimately lead to decay.
When plaque combines with sugar, they weaken our enamel and leave our teeth vulnerable to decay.
Snacking frequently can also lead to tooth decay; when we snack regularly, we are automatically giving acid in whatever type of food we consume more time to do some damage.
More often than not, the vast majority of people that grind their teeth do not realize when they do this, or they do it absent-mindedly.
Tooth grinding occurs a lot when we are under stress and often while we are sleeping. Tooth grinding is a well-known cause of tooth decay.
When we grind our teeth, we strip away the protective outer layer of enamel, and this ultimately leads to decay in our tooth.
A few practical ways we can reduce tooth grinding include reducing stress levels when we can and making use of “bite guards” or “night guards”.
It is no coincidence that cavities become more common the older we get, the older people tend to make use of more prescription medicines when compared to younger individuals.
A lot of prescription medicines cause dry mouth conditions, and this is an issue because saliva helps stop the growth of plaque, individuals with dry mouth conditions are more likely to have dental problems leading to tooth decay.
As we get older, our gums begin to recess, and this is when the improper oral hygiene habits we practiced during our youth tend to catch up with a lot of people.
Avoiding the Dentists’ Office
A trip to the dentists’ office is one that most of us would rather avoid but the saying, ‘an apple a day keeps the dentist away’ is not entirely accurate or correct.
Avoiding your dentist is one of the worst things you can do to your teeth, if you are afraid of the dentist, do not be.
Ideally, you should visit a dentist for a dental examination or routine check-ups twice a year. For those of us living in or around the Central Coast, quality dental care has never been this convenient.