Tooth decay is one of the more common oral diseases that affect kids and adults worldwide. In a report shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was revealed that more than 80% of the US population is expected to suffer from the condition by the time they turn 34 years old.
Tooth decay starts with damage to the enamel surface caused by harmful bacteria. Dental enamel is the hard outer coating that covers and protects each tooth from physical, thermal, and chemical factors that could injure the soft tissues in the underlying dental pulp. It is considered the hardest substance in the human body, even harder than the bones.
However, improper or insufficient oral hygiene can destroy the enamel over time. This is because of the plaque that forms and builds up on the surface of your teeth every day. Plaque is a sticky film of acid-producing bacteria formed from the leftover food particles and saliva that mix in your mouth. Hence, failure to clean your teeth properly can make you more susceptible to plaque buildup.
The acids produced by these bacteria slowly erode the protective enamel over time, eventually leading to problems like cavities and gingivitis or gum disease. Plaque can also accumulate under the gums and near the roots of your teeth, which can break down the bones that support them and result in tooth loss.
Why You Should Take Care Of Your Teeth
If left untreated, cavities can spread and affect the deeper layers of your teeth. This can lead to severe toothache, infection, and, eventually – tooth loss. It is more challenging to manage because you may not experience symptoms at the early stages of cavity development, which can lull you into thinking that your teeth are fine.
However, as the decay gets more extensive, you will start to experience discomfort and other signs of tooth damage. This includes aches or pains around your teeth with no apparent cause; mild or sharp pain when consuming something sweet, hot, or cold; tooth sensitivity; or pain when you bite down. You will also start seeing visible signs of decay, such as holes in the teeth and white, brown, or black stains on the tooth surface.
When eating, the condition of your teeth can directly affect the type of food you eat. Toothaches can prevent you from consuming the food you need to maintain a healthy diet. Aside from these, the mouth is the gateway to your lungs and digestive tract, which means that diseases and infections that start here can eventually affect your other organs.
Your oral health could give you and your healthcare provider a lot of clues about your body's overall condition. The oral cavity, which includes your teeth, gums, and tongue, can indicate if you have nutritional deficiencies or whether your body is suffering from some systemic diseases whose symptoms are not yet apparent elsewhere. Your doctor could also check for signs of infection by examining your mouth and throat.
How To Prevent Tooth Decay
There are several factors that can lead to tooth decay. One reason is poor oral hygiene, while another is tobacco intake. Certain dietary choices like frequent snacking and consuming sugary food or drinks can also affect oral health. These can turn your mouth into a breeding ground of infection-causing bad bacteria.
Fortunately, tooth decay is highly preventable with proper oral care and healthier lifestyle choices. Make a conscious choice to eat a balanced diet and limit your intake of sugary food and drinks such as pastries, soda, or coffee. Try to avoid using tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, because these can stain your teeth and weaken your gums.
You must brush your teeth at least twice a day and never go to sleep without doing so. Brushing before bedtime ensures that you remove the germs and plaque that have accumulated during the day. Brush your teeth in circular motions to thoroughly remove the plaque and prevent them from just getting pushed to the gums. Always use a good toothbrush I recommend searching for the best Philips Sonicare toothbrush as these are highly recommended.
Instead of regular toothpaste, consider using a dental gel that can fight plaque on a molecular level, just as professional tooth cleaning would. Use a soft-bristled brush to clean your teeth to avoid getting tears and scratches on your enamel and gums, which harder brushes can cause.
Note that germs and bacteria can accumulate on your used brushes, so be sure to replace them every three months. Then after brushing, use dental floss to clean the area between your teeth and remove any food residue that could attract bacteria.
It would be best if you could also visit your dentist regularly for oral checkups so that he can apply preventive measures and protect your teeth from damage. This will also enable your dentist to detect and properly address any problem at the onset.