The decay of a tooth is the destruction or breakdown of a tooth. There is a lot of bad information surrounding tooth decay - some people think that it's normal for children to have it, and that adults rarely do. The truth is, children are increasingly reaching adulthood without ever having a cavity due to better dental education and preventive care. Additionally, adults can develop tooth decay. They only see a reduction in the likelihood if they have applied better oral hygiene care to their routine.
Tooth decay begins with plaque. Plaque is a naturally occurring substance that is being constantly created by our mouths. It is a blend of saliva along with anything else that is in our mouths, including food debris and bacteria. Some of this plaque is naturally swallowed, and some of it lands and rests on the surfaces of our teeth, between our teeth and along the gumline. It is sticky and yellow in appearance. If the food debris contains sugar, which is often easy to find, the bacteria will feed on the sugar and then produce an acid that causes cavities and decay to our teeth; this is known as caries.
First, the acid will erode the enamel of our teeth, as it creates a hole in the enamel, the bacteria can then find its way into the layers of our teeth, or even work below the gumline attacking the gum tissue and eventually the bone. This can cause the patient to have decay, gum disease, infect the pulp of the tooth and even cause the death of the tooth.
How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay?
There are ways to combat the decay causing bacteria in our mouths. Our hygienist is happy to discuss tips specific to your needs. In general we recommend:
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If you would like to learn more about how to protect your teeth or schedule a professional dental cleaning, call us today a 503-662-8744.