Published on Mar 25, 2020 - 4 min read
You are probably reading this article because you have cavities in your mouth or have been struggling with tooth decay for many years and want to put an end to this problem. Or perhaps, you have a young toddler whose teeth seem to be dissolving away and get rotten as soon as they come through into their mouth. If you are wondering “why me?” read through the following lines as I unfold the reasons that increase your risk for tooth decay and outline the steps to take to minimize your risk of developing new cavities and even cure tooth decay in its early stages if you or any of your loved ones happen to develop any.
What Is Tooth Decay and How Does It Occur?
Tooth decay also referred to as dental caries, is one of the most common diseases throughout the world. It is an infection caused by the bacteria in the mouth, turning sugar in food and drinks into organic acids. These acids gradually dissolve and damage your teeth causing cavities or tooth decay. Tooth decay symptoms often begin with a white spot lesion on the tooth surface, usually near the gum line. Left untreated, this white spot can become a hole or cavity that stains yellow-brown or black from food and drinks.
If the cavity is not treated, the decay can get deeper into the tooth and cause pain (toothache), and if it reaches the pulp, the inner core layer containing the nerves and blood vessels that supply the tooth with nutrients, the pain may become unbearable disturbing your sleep and there is a risk of developing a tooth abscess.
Am I at Risk of Tooth Decay?
Obviously, no one is immune to tooth decay and everyone’s teeth are susceptible. Whenever you chow down a meal or grab a bite or have a sweet drink, your teeth are attacked by acids produced by plaque bacteria acting on the sugar you have just consumed. This attack usually lasts up to 30 minutes after eating. However, the good news is that recovery usually ensues after that and any small damage to tooth enamel, the hardest outer layer of the tooth, begins to repair with the help of minerals from your saliva and fluoride in water and toothpaste.
It is now clear that the most important risk factor in developing tooth decay is your dietary habits. Not only what you eat or drink but also how often too. Research into dental caries proves that the most important factor in caries development is sugar (sucrose) in the diet with the frequency and form of intake being more important than the amount. Thus your risk for tooth decay is greatest if you consume sugar frequently in a form that tends to adhere to the teeth.
Other factors to consider when looking into your risk for tooth decay include the quantity and quality of your saliva, oral hygiene habits, and regular use of fluoridated products such as toothpaste and mouthwashes. People with reduced salivary flow or a dry mouth as a side effect to medications or for any other reason have a greater risk of tooth decay as they lose the protective role of saliva.
How to Reduce the Risk of Tooth Decay?
Knowing how tooth decay develops and what factors contribute to its development, one can reduce their risk of decay if they could control these factors:
How to Reverse Early Lesions?
To reverse the early lesions or the white spots on your teeth and make them heal, you can ask your dentist to place concentrated fluoride varnish or gel on your teeth, usually twice a year, or have a toothpaste containing a higher concentration of fluoride (about 5000 ppm) and apply it to the lesions twice a day for a few minutes after you brush your teeth with your usual fluoridated (1500 ppm) toothpaste, then spit out the excess but do not rinse your mouth.
This also strengthens your teeth and makes them more resistant to further decay. You can also use a daily fluoride mouth rinse at bedtime as an alternative to the high fluoride toothpaste.
For more information, consult a dentist online!
Query: Hi doctor, I have two small white spots on the lower portion of my front tooth. Can it be removed by microabrasion? Is the procedure worth? Please guide. Read Full »
Query: Hi doctor, I have a lot of pain on my right side upper and lower jaw. I have a wisdom tooth on the upper jaw. Before two days, the tooth directly below the wisdom tooth got broken, and it is causing pain. I am scared of going to the dentist. What can I do now? Please help me. Read Full »
Query: Hi doctor, How can we prevent tooth decay? Please explain about the toxic things that we use every day and say a few words regarding healing tonics. Read Full »
Do you have a question on Tooth Decay or White Spots On Teeth?Ask a Doctor Online