Oral Health Care & Prevention: Tooth Decay
The major culprit of tooth decay are acids that are produced by certain oral bacteria that erode the minerals that are critical to the enamel of the tooth. Left untreated, tooth decay can lead to infection, pain and even the loss of teeth. The decay process starts with what is usually unnoticeable damage to the enamel of the tooth. If not treated, the decay progresses to deeper layers, eventually reaching the pulp of the tooth which contains very sensitive blood vessels and nerves which can lead to severe pain.
Some of the top causes of tooth decay include:
- Deep crevices and issues with enamel: people with deeper than normal crevices in their teeth and those with enamel issues are more likely to have problems with tooth decay because bacteria and plaque can grow with minimal contact with a toothbrush or other hygienic products.
- Foods that are high in sugar: The bacteria which produce enamel eroding acids feed on sugar and multiply which leads to more bacteria producing more acid. This happens much faster than you may realize. Within seconds the bacteria start to multiply and by the time a single meal is over the bacteria could have multiplied several times covering your teeth with acid. This is why it is important to brush your teeth after every meal especially if the meal was high in sugar.
- Acidic foods and drinks: drinks such as soda or fruit juices contain acids which can cover your teeth in acids in addition to the acids that oral bacteria produce. What most people don’t realize is that most sugary drinks such as juices are just as damaging to your teeth as soda.
- Lack of saliva: Saliva is our mouth’s natural oral defense mechanism. Dry mouth increases the likelihood that of tooth decay. Causes of dry mouth range from prescription medication to genetics to other diseases such as diabetes. We’re happy to explore avenues with you to help alleviate any dry mouth issues you may have.
- Grinding your teeth: most tooth grinding occurs during sleep. However, many people grind their teeth and are unaware of it even while awake. The grinding of teeth can lead to tooth decay as it stripes away the outer layers of your teeth including the enamel. This particular cause of tooth decay can be remedied by a simple ‘night guard’ which we can easily help you with.
- Insufficient oral hygiene practices: Brushing your teeth simply isn’t’ enough to keep tooth decay at bay. You need to floss, use mouthwash, brush your tongue. As far as brushing is concerned, you should brush at least twice a day and ideally after each meal. Also, remember to brush for at least two minutes to make sure you remove sufficient amounts of acid and bacteria.
Infinite Smiles DC
1145 19th St. NW #508
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 849-3626
New Patients: (202) 568-6968
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