Your teeth are covered in a hard layer of tooth enamel. Underneath this is a layer of dentin which is much softer. The dentin protects the pulp which is the central part of the tooth that contains all the nerves and the blood supply. Tooth decay affects the outer layer of hard enamel, as well as the inner dentin part of the tooth.
Tooth decay can begin when particles of food or beverages containing sugars and carbohydrates are left on the teeth.
Tooth decay can begin when particles of food or beverages containing sugars and carbohydrates are left on the teeth. Bacteria living in the mouth feed on these particles, which will in turn produce acid as a by-product. The bacteria combine with the food debris, acid and saliva to form a layer called plaque which clings to the teeth. The acids in the plaque weaken and soften the tooth enamel, eventually exposing the dentin and causing cavities. Although tooth decay is very common, there are ways you can prevent it.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably first thing in the morning and last thing at night. If you want, you can also brush your teeth after each meal, and it’s important to use good quality fluoride toothpaste. Make sure you pay attention to your brushing technique, and if you’re unsure or would like a little help, then ask us for a quick demonstration on how to brush your teeth effectively.
Floss your teeth once a day, preferably last thing at night. Make sure you choose dental floss you feel comfortable using, and which can fit easily in between your teeth. If you hate to floss then use an interdental cleaner or soft pick to help remove the debris from the contact areas in between your teeth, and to stimulate the gums.
Eat a balanced diet consisting of regular meals. Sticky foods containing carbohydrates and sugars can remain on your teeth for hours, so it’s best to brush your teeth after eating these foods. Make sure you drink plenty of water to wash away excess food particles and bacteria.
Avoid frequent snacking and drinks. Every time you drink something or eat a snack, the breakdown of food particles in your mouth will create an acidic byproduct (plaque.) Frequent consumption throughout the day increases exposure to your tooth enamel. Liquids are especially harmful, as they coat all surface areas of your teeth. Whether it’s diet soda, sports drinks or even juice, all of these liquids still contain sugars that lower the pH in your mouth, and put you at a greater risk for decay. If you do splurge on a drink, have it all at once and save the afternoon sipping for a glass of water.
Ask us about dental sealants, especially if you have children. Dental sealants can protect the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, and are generally applied to the newly erupted teeth of children or teenagers. They can only be applied to healthy teeth that don’t have any signs of tooth decay.
Visit us regularly for dental checkups and professional cleanings. Regular dental checks will enable us to detect any early signs of enamel erosion, while professional cleanings will remove hardened plaque from your teeth, lessening the damage. We can also check that you are brushing and flossing correctly, as it’s very easy to miss areas when you’re in a regular routine. We can also suggest products that might help lessen your chance of tooth decay, and which will make it easier to keep your teeth clean and free from cavities.
Deal with cavities quickly. If you do have any cavities then we can restore your teeth through using composite resin fillings which are tooth coloured. If the decay is quite extensive then we may suggest an inlay or onlay to replace the destroyed tooth structure, or it may require a crown that covers up the remaining tooth structure completely, sealing the tooth and preventing any bacteria from entering.