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An Overview of Tooth Decay and Prevention Tips

29/08/2020

Tooth decay (also known as dental caries) is one of the most common conditions treated by dentists, and it can affect people of all ages. It is crucial that you brush your teeth twice a day, especially after eating and drinking, as you may otherwise be at risk of enamel erosion and tooth decay. There are various causes for tooth decay, and in this blog post Sparkling Dental will be sharing some insight into how tooth decay occurs and how you can reduce your risk factors.

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay can be caused for a number of reasons, but it is principally caused by bacteria feeding on sugar and starch left behind after eating or drinking. This rich food source allows bacteria to multiply, causing acid to form which slowly dissolves the enamel on your teeth. Whilst it is normal to have some plaque in your mouth, it is important to brush and floss twice a day to ensure bacteria within your mouth remain at safe levels.

Other contributing factors to tooth decay include:

  • Consumption of acidic/sugary food and drinks – this can be particularly harmful, as you are essentially receiving a double dose of acid. The high sugar content also provides a rich food source for bacteria. Therefore, dentists recommend avoiding soft drinks and lollies, especially toffees and caramels which can become stuck between teeth. If you do consume them, you should brush your teeth as soon as possible.
  • Minimal Saliva Production – Some people produce less saliva than others. Saliva plays an important role in clearing away bacteria and neutralising acid and sugars in your mouth. It is important to drink enough water to maintain a healthy level of saliva.
  • Lack of Fluoride – Fluoride assists in strengthening your teeth, providing additional resistance to acid attack. Those who consume filtered water and use fluoride-free toothpaste will be more susceptible to tooth decay.
  • Genetic Factors – Sometimes the reason for tooth decay cannot be explained. No two people’s teeth are the same, and some may just be unlucky.

Tips for Preventing Tooth Decay

The best way to minimise your risk of experiencing tooth decay or enamel erosion is to practice good oral hygiene. This involves brushing and flossing twice per day, followed by rinsing your mouth out with alcohol-free mouthwash. You should also schedule a visit to your dentist every 6-12 months.

If you consume sugary or starchy foods whilst out and about, it’s a good idea to chew a piece of sugar free gum and consume a glass of water to help clear your mouth of debris and minimise acid production.

How is Tooth Decay Treated?

It’s important to treat tooth decay early, as if left untreated your condition may worsen. During your consultation, your dentist will prepare a tailored treatment plan. In most cases this will involve fluoride treatment, which can assist in strengthening any existing enamel and building up a layer of protection against plaque. In more advanced stages we we may need to explore the use of fillings/crowns, or potentially even root canal treatment.

Book a Check-Up at Sparkling Dental Today

If you haven’t visited the dentist in some time, perhaps now is the time to make an appointment for a routine check-up. When caught early, tooth decay can be treated to great effect without the need for invasive treatment. Our friendly and experienced team are here to help you maintain optimal oral health. Please call today on 02 9953 0088 to schedule an appointment.