What is Tooth Decay?
Many people believe that tooth decay and cavities are interchangeable terms, but the reality is that cavities are what occurs when you have more advanced tooth decay. Tooth decay is the process where bacteria attack your dental enamel, compromising it and exposing it to cavities. Tooth decay eventually leads to dental cavities, making its prevention all the more critical. We here at Century Dental strongly believe that tooth decay can be prevented through a combination of good oral hygiene and regular appointments at our office.
How Can I Prevent Tooth Decay?
Bacteria are your teeth's worst enemy. While some bacteria can be beneficial, most of the bacteria in your mouth are harmful and are always looking for a chance to attack your teeth. Preventing these bacteria from penetrating your dental enamel is key to preventing tooth decay. Tooth decay forms in stages. When plaque, the sticky residue that forms on your teeth and along your gum line, is allowed to remain on your teeth, they can become vulnerable to decay. Tooth decay starts with a soft spot forming on your enamel and can gradually turn into a pit or a hole in your tooth.
If your enamel becomes compromised by bacteria, the germs can work their way into your tooth, forming a cavity. The outer layer of your tooth is made of enamel, which is quite hard, but it is protecting your dentin and pulp. Once the bacteria are past the enamel, your dentin and pulp can quickly become infected. Keeping the bacteria at bay is important to preventing tooth decay. You can do your part by making sure you take good care of your mouth. Avoid eating too much sugar and acidic foods like coffee and wine. Do not use tobacco products, as they can weaken your teeth. Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetable and dairy to help keep your teeth strong and healthy.
Signs of tooth decay are a pain when you eat hot or cold foods, or when you eat sugary foods. You may also have pain when you bite or chew, or you could have an ongoing toothache throughout the day. You may be able to see visible holes in your tooth if it continues to progress.
One of the best ways you can prevent tooth decay is by brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash. Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brush for at least two minutes each session and follow up with dental floss. Start with an 18-inch length of floss and use a fresh segment per tooth. Work the floss up under your gums and between your teeth to remove all buildup. After brushing and flossing, you can use antibacterial mouthwash to help finish off any remaining bacteria. Mouthwash, however, is no substitute for good oral hygiene. Use it in addition to brushing and flossing, not to replace it.
Preventing tooth decay is teamwork; you need to take good care of your teeth, but we also can help you prevent it. Schedule an appointment with us every six months for a cleaning and checkup, and we’ll help you keep your smile bright and healthy. To set up an appointment with us here at Century Dental or for more information about tooth decay, give us a call today at (971) 708-1608!
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