Understanding the Root Causes of Tooth Decay

Updated on April 5, 2021

The real power of your smile is significantly defined by your oral health. While it is easy to say that you are keeping yourself in check by regularly brushing or gargling mouthwash, it does not mean that it is enough in keeping bacteria under control. When it comes to preventing and treating oral health problems, visiting your dentist at least twice a year is still the best way to go. 

While most oral issues are easily preventable, tooth decay remains one of the world’s most common diseases, affecting people of all ages today. It causes irreversible damage to the tooth’s structure, which happens when the harmful bacteria or plaque in your mouth produce acids that soften the enamel causing it to lose minerals. With repeated attacks of this acid from constant eating or drinking of food with high sugar content, the tooth’s enamel is weakened and will ultimately be destroyed. What is even worrying about this is that tooth decay can result in the dreaded dental caries affecting deeper layers of the tooth and gums when left untreated. 

The Root Causes of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can be considered a silent killer since it rarely causes symptoms or discomfort while attacking the smooth surfaces and the tooth’s pit and fissure. Smooth surface cavities, also called a coronal cavity, are known for their slow-growth and can significantly be prevented with proper oral routine and regular cleaning. On the other hand, pit and fissure cavities are the more progressive type, which usually affects the back teeth’ chewing surfaces. If found early, this can be treated with dental sealants. However, you may feel extra sensitivity and spontaneous pain in the mouth once the cavity reaches the innermost layer of the tooth called the root. Unlike other types of cavities, this type is challenging to treat and may entail root canal therapy.

Several factors contribute to tooth decay, such as:

1.     Oral Hygiene

As recommended by dental professionals, we are expected to brush regularly at least twice a day and floss before bedtime in order to keep a healthy smile and fresh breath. Without proper oral hygiene, a sticky and yellowish deposit of biofilm will form on your teeth. It will ultimately attack your enamel once it is in contact with food particles, sugar, and saliva. This biofilm is what we call dental plaque, which speeds up the process of tooth decay and tartar build-up that can irritate your gums. 

2.     Dry Mouth

Saliva plays an essential role in keeping your oral health in check. Aside from maintaining the mouth moist, it helps clean away food particles and supports in preventing infection and tooth decay by neutralizing harmful acids produced by bacteria. With bicarbonate, calcium, and phosphate elements, the saliva can serve as a barrier against plaque build-up and can help restore the pristine look of the teeth. 

To prevent dry mouth or xerostomia, dental professionals usually recommend drinking plenty of water, chewing sugar-free gums or candies, and using an alcohol-free mouthwash. For more severe dry mouth, dentists may prescribe medications for stimulating saliva or suggest treatments and sealants for the teeth in order to protect against tooth decay. 

3.     Unhealthy diet

Depriving your body with healthy food alternatives can affect your general body condition as well as your teeth and growth of your jaws. Time and time again, studies show that people who consume sugar-filled food and beverages on a daily basis have the highest possibility of developing tooth decay. If the harmful bacteria in our mouth are not regularly removed through consistent brushing, it can come in contact with trapped sugar or starches between the teeth, which will speed up the process of tooth decay. 

As a response to this, you should limit sugar intake and provide nutritionally sound food alternatives. Additionally, you can prevent tooth decay by making it a habit to wait for at least 30 minutes to an hour after eating before brushing your teeth. 

For parents who use baby bottles, it is also advised to make sure that you never allow your child to fall asleep and have long-term exposure to sweetened liquids such as milk formulas or juices. The sugar in these liquids can, in the same way, feed the harmful bacteria and cause plaque that will lead to cavities. 

4.     Fluoride deficiency

Fluoride is considered as the foundation of the teeth and bones, and adding this compound into your daily routine is a sure-fire way to fight cavities and tooth decay. With the combination of fluoride and saliva, the enamel can repair itself by replacing the lost minerals due to plaque build-up. With this being said, deficiency in this type of element can affect the enamel’s resistance against demineralization.

To prevent cavities and preserve your pearly whites, you must make it a point to include toothpaste and mouth rinses with concentrations of fluoride in your regular oral routine. For children, dentists may also recommend fluoride varnish treatments two to four times a year in order to slow down and ultimately stop tooth decay. 

Prevention is The Key to A Brighter Smile 

The good thing about this oral issue is that it is relatively easy to diagnose with a regular dental check-up and professional cleaning. To guarantee prevention against it, you must put your A-game forward in terms of oral hygiene and ensure that you are brushing with fluoride at least two times a day. Through this, you will be able to remove food particles stuck between the teeth and thoroughly wash off traces of sugar and starch. Ultimately, it would be best to lead a healthy lifestyle and diet by cutting off tobacco use and limiting the intake of unhealthy food choices. Take control of your oral health today by preventing the root causes of tooth decay immediately. Take the first step and seek dental expertise from the Dentist in Naples.

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