Tooth decay is caused by erosion of the enamel, the protective surface of your teeth. This is often caused by a buildup of plaque from foods and saliva that get stuck inside the teeth. Although tooth decay is preventable, if left untreated, it could lead to a number of complications for your oral health.
How Cavities Are Formed
Tooth decay causes cavities, tiny holes in the teeth that grow bigger and deeper with time. Your lifestyle, the food you eat, genetics, and how well you care for your teeth will all have an impact on the potential development of cavities. Although it takes time for them to develop, here is how a cavity will progress:
Formation of plaque
Plaque is formed when the bacteria that naturally occurs in your mouth comes in contact with sugar in the food and beverages you consume. When plaque is not removed immediately, it will harden to become tartar, which is more difficult to remove.
Plaque produces acids that cause the erosion of enamel. In the early days of decay, this erosion can cause a small hole to appear in the enamel. Once the enamel of the teeth has dissolved completely, acid attacks the dentin. This second layer is softer and less resistant to acids, making it more vulnerable.
If undetected and untreated, the decay can go deeper into the structure of the teeth. After destroying the enamel and dentin, the bacteria reaches the nerves and blood vessels at the base of the teeth. The result is a bacterial infection that often leads to a tooth abscess.
Symptoms that You Have Cavities
In its early stages, tooth decay can only be noticed by your dentist. If the cavities worsen, you may notice some of the following symptoms:
- Visible holes in teeth
- Black, brown, or white stains on the surface of your teeth
- Sensitive teeth and toothaches
- Pain when biting down
- Sensitivity when drinking something hot, cold, or sweet
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
Brush your teeth twice a day
Brush your teeth 30 minutes after meals, twice a day. This removes the plaque in your mouth while it’s still soft and easy to wash off. Frequent brushing not only prevents tooth decay, it can decrease the risk periodontal disease. Remember to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, an ingredient that actively targets plaque and tartar.
Floss every day
Brushing your teeth is not enough to maintain good oral hygiene. Flossing in conjunction with routine brushing reaches crevices that are too small for the bristles of your toothbrush. Plaque can build up in these tiny crevices near your gum line. This is why flossing is necessary to target plaque buildup between the teeth.
Visiting your dentist at least once every six months for a professional cleaning can help remove any plaque and tartar. Regular visits can also give the dentist time to identify any signs of tooth decay, as early detection is key for preventing further damage to the teeth and gums.
For professional dental services in London, Ontario, call Cosmo Dental Centre at(519) 659-2767.