Tooth decay is a condition that occurs when the top two layers of a tooth are eaten away by the acids formed from leftover bits of food and drink in your mouth. That includes carbohydrates such as bread and pasta, as well as fruit that contains high levels of sugar. It’s not that food in reasonable quantities is bad for your teeth; it’s just that you need to remove it from your mouth to prevent plaque. Sip water between meals, brush, floss and see your dentist for your oral health’s sake.
Tooth decay is a common problem that can develop at any time in life. Not only can it be painful and inconvenient, but tooth decay can result in serious health problems if not fixed. If your teeth are in good condition, it’s best to keep them that way with healthy practices that prevent tooth decay.
But don’t despair if your teeth aren’t in good health. There are tooth decay treatments for your entire family available at Albany County Dental Associates. And with the right plan for you, you can improve your dental health and even cure tooth decay.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is the gradual breakdown of teeth caused by bacteria, which forms plaque on the surface of your teeth. Plaque is actually a cluster of germs and food particles that sticks to your teeth. The germs in plaque slowly eat away at your enamel, which is the hard outer layer of teeth. It’s the acids that bacteria produce as a byproduct that eats away the enamel.
Tooth decay can result in cavities, gum problems or even damage to the roots of your teeth. All of these conditions can cause tooth pain, and they sometimes lead to serious medical complications. Since bacteria are attracted to the foods you eat, it’s not possible to completely keep them away from your teeth. But tooth decay treatment can be used to prevent tooth decay, reverse damage, or even to cure tooth decay completely.
Diet is the biggest risk factor for tooth decay. Plaque is formed when bacteria can congregate on a sticky film produced by certain foods. Sugary foods make the easiest environment for germs to attack your teeth. The bacteria in your mouth use sugar to create the acid that causes tooth decay. Any carbohydrate that ferments can be turned acidic by bacteria.
“During the past generation, milk intakes have decreased while soda pop and 100 percent juice intakes have increased,” reports the Wisconsin Dental Association. “It has become a daily habit for a growing number of people, especially kids, teens and young adults. A steady consumption of soft drinks is one of the leading causes of tooth decay.
Additional Risk Factors
Poor dental hygiene is another big risk factor. Although you can’t prevent bacteria in your mouth from producing acid, failing to care for your teeth with regular professional teeth cleaning gives plaque a chance to grow.
Age can also be a risk factor. Younger children have a higher risk of tooth decay because their enamel is not as strong. Older adults have a higher risk because their gums often recede, exposing the more delicate areas of teeth to plaque. Young adulthood through middle age is a lower risk age group, as long as they practice daily oral hygiene.
Tooth Decay Treatment
The best tooth decay treatment is prevention. Moderate levels of tooth decay can even be reversed by healthy practices. You can meet major risk factors head on with lifestyle choices. It would be almost impossible to eliminate all the foods that can cause plaque, but you can limit your intake of the biggest offenders.
The most popular food and drinks that lead to tooth decay when ingested regularly include:
- Sweets, especially hard candy and gummies that are packed with sugar and may contain acid as well.
- Soda, a notorious cause of tooth decay.
- Anything highly acidic, which gives bacteria a head start on producing the acid that can harm your teeth.
- 100 percent fruit juice is packed with natural sugars that can be harmful to enamel, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Healthy teeth care practices are also a key part of tooth decay treatment and prevention. Brushing your teeth regularly prevents plaque from having too much time to attack your teeth. Flossing and thorough brushing techniques are essential. Consult your Albany-area dentist to learn the best techniques for you.
It is possible to cure tooth decay even if it’s become serious. Most commonly, your dentist drills into your tooth and then applies a filling. This removes the decayed part of the tooth, and blocks further decay in that area. If it’s more serious, a root canal might be necessary.
Most commonly, even serious tooth decay is treatable. And your team at Albany County Dental Associates can work with you to find solutions that fit your budget and lifestyle. Even if you have serious tooth decay, it’s not too late to get it fixed and to start practicing better health for your teeth.