Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth structure and can affect both the enamel (the outer coating of the tooth) and the dentin layer of the tooth.
It occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (mostly sugars and starches), such as bread, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy are left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids.
The bacteria, acid, food debris and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities.
To prevent tooth decay you religiously have to:
- Brush your teeth at least thrice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Preferably, brush after each meal and especially before going to bed.
- Clean between your teeth daily with dental floss or interdental cleaners.
- Rinse daily with a fluoride-containing mouthwash. Some rinses also have antiseptic ingredients to help kill bacteria that cause plaque.
- Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacks. Avoid carbohydrates such as candy, pretzels, and chips, which can remain on the tooth surface. If sticky foods are eaten, brush your teeth soon afterward.
- Check with a dentist about the use of supplemental fluoride, which strengthens your teeth.
- Ask a dentist about dental sealants (a plastic protective coating) applied to the chewing surfaces of your back teeth (molars) to protect them from decay.
- Drink fluoridated water. At least a pint of fluoridated water each day is needed to protect you from tooth decay.
Researchers continue on developing new means to prevent tooth decay. One study found that a chewing gum that contains the sweetener xylitol temporarily retarded the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay.
In addition, several materials that slowly release fluoride over time, which will help prevent further decay, are being explored. These materials would be placed between teeth or in pits and fissures of teeth. Toothpaste and mouth rinses that can reverse and heal early cavities are also being studied.
By following the given tips, you’ll be able to put up a good fight against tooth decay.
Still, it’s always best to visit our dentists at Shinagawa Orthodontics regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams to prevent and treat tooth decay. Call our Patient Care Lines: (+632) 368 5238 | (+63) 917 862 7454 | (+63) 921 217 0517 to book a FREE consultation.