Did You Know?
Dental Decay, otherwise known as holes or cavities or caries, is preventable.
It is caused by bacteria in your mouth, feeding on sugars and secreting acid onto your tooth surface. This acid will gradually soften the tooth surface until it cavitates.
In other words, bacteria poop is melting your teeth away.
This process is reversible before the tooth cavitaties.
What Causes Dental Decay?
Dental decay is caused by poor brushing but also depends on other things like diet and salivary flow.
1. Poor Brushing
Insufficient tooth brushing means that plaque is left on the surface of the tooth for long periods of time. The longer the plaque is on your tooth, the more mature and more acid-secreting they become.
It is important to brush your teeth twice a day as it is unlikely that all the plaque will be removed with just once a day brushing. Flossing is also necessary as your toothbrush cannot remove plaque from in between the teeth.
A diet high in sugar and carbohydrates can cause dental decay as well. The bacteria in the plaque love to feed on the sugar and carbohydrates in your diet. A few things to consider:
Frequency of intake: The more sugar you consume, the more sugar the bacteria in your mouth consume and the more acid they secrete. We advise giving your teeth a break for 2 hours between snacks and meals as this allows time for your saliva to clear the food and neutralise some of the acids. If you continuously snack then your saliva has no chance of keeping up with the acid-secreting bacteria.
Consistency: sticky, chewy and soft foods will stay in the mouth for longer periods of time which provides bacteria with a constant food supply. We suggest crunchy snacks like carrot and apples.
3. Salivary Flow
Saliva is important in helping to clear the foods from your mouth into your stomach and in buffering the acids created by the bacteria. People with dry mouths are more prone to dental decay because of this reason.
Keep your salivary flow as high as possible by drinking lots of water and avoiding caffeine.
4. Fluoride & Other Adjuncts
Fluoride in regular toothpastes will help prevent decay. Products such as higher strength toothpaste or Tooth Mousse may be beneficial if you are at high risk of decay. Your dentist will speak to you about these products if they are appropriate for you.
Remember to spit out the toothpaste after brushing but do not rinse otherwise you are removing all the protective fluoride from your teeth. Alternatively, you can rinse and then apply toothpaste to your teeth with your finger like you would a cream.
Talk is Cheap
Decay is a constant balancing act between factors that cause decay and factors that prevent decay. If the former wins then you end up with a hole in your tooth.
Good habits and diet choices can save you a lot of grief because it is much less costly and traumatic to prevent cavities than to have fillings, especially since a filling is never the end of the story.