Tooth decay occurs when plaque forms on the teeth. Plaque is a film created by bacteria that sits on the teeth and eventually causes damage if it is not removed. Plaque contains acids that eat away at tooth enamel, creating small holes called cavities. As the process continues, the tooth becomes infected and the patient may lose the tooth.
Tooth decay can be brought on by various factors, including: poor oral hygiene, poor diet choices, location of the tooth, and stomach acid. If you feel your child is experiencing tooth decay, it is important to see us for preventative care immediately.
By far, oral hygiene problems are one of the main causes of tooth decay. Brushing and flossing on a regular basis removes plaque, so it is important for patients to perform both of these tasks thoroughly and promptly. If plaque is allowed to sit on the teeth for long periods of time, it will begin attacking the tooth enamel and ultimately lead to decay.
Patients who consume a diet that heavily consists of sticky or acidic foods and beverages are setting themselves up for tooth decay. Foods that stick to the teeth are difficult to remove, and therefore are more likely to linger long enough to cause decay. Frequently consuming acidic foods or drinks means coating your teeth in decay-causing acids. When these types of foods or drinks are consumed, it’s important to remove them by drinking plenty of water, brushing, and flossing.
The molars in the back of your mouth are more susceptible to decay. Why? One reason is that the teeth are harder to reach when brushing and flossing, meaning some plaque frequently gets left behind. In addition, the surfaces of these teeth contain several grooves, which means it’s easier for bits of food to get stuck long enough to produce acids that attack enamel. Dental sealants are a good way to prevent decay in the molars.
Patients who suffer from chronic heartburn or vomit frequently may suffer from tooth decay due to stomach acid coming into contact with the teeth and eroding the enamel. This is why patients who suffer from bulimia are at risk for tooth decay.
Tooth enamel cannot be replaced, so it’s important to take good care of it. Fortunately, by recognizing factors that may make you more prone to tooth decay, you can take the steps needed to protect your teeth. If it’s time for your child’s next dental appointment, give us a call today at Smiles 4 Keeps.