Tooth Decay
Most people think that tooth decay affects children only. However, everyone is at risk, especially if we fail to observe good oral hygiene. But, there’s some good news — tooth decay is preventable. This can only be possible when we observe good oral hygiene, as well as make smart choices on what we eat.

So, what is tooth decay? This is a dental condition that affects and breaks down someone’s teeth. We can also define it as the softening of the enamel, which in turn, causes damage to the tooth. Tooth decay is caused by acids formed when plaque bacteria breaks down the sugar in our mouths.

Failure to address this problem can lead to the formation of a hole or cavity on the affected teeth. Now, when the cavity is not treated, it can grow larger with time, which can in turn damage the entire tooth.

Symptoms of tooth decay

Several symptoms indicate the formation of tooth decay. Besides, there are numerous signs that existing tooth decay is getting worse.

The following are the common symptoms of tooth decay

Sensitivity cold or hot foodstuff

If you experience tooth sensitivity once you eat hot or cold food, there’s a possibility you have tooth decay. Since tooth decay caused the enamel to wear away, it can also affect the dentin—the hard layer directly below the tooth enamel.

The dentin has a lot of sensitive nerves and cells. So, when it’s not well protected, hot, cold, acidic, or sticky foods can stimulate these nerves and cells—and that’s what causes tooth sensitivity. 

Sensitivity to sweets

Professional dentists at San Diego dental clinic Bajars Dental, say that sensitivity to sugary drinks and teeth is another sign of tooth decay. Just like sensitivity to temperature, persistent sensitivity to sweets is a result of damaged enamel. This also indicates the start of the tooth cavity.
 

Unpleasant taste and bad breath

Cavities are a result of bacterial infection. Just like any other organism, this bacteria produces waste, which can cause an unpleasant taste, as well as bad breath. If you realize that you have a persistent bad breath that you cannot hide, consider going for a dental checkup. 

Pain

Tooth decay can cause pain and discomfort. At times, you might experience sharp and shocking pain when biting down certain foods. Other people have a challenge in flossing or brushing some areas because of tooth sensitivity or pain. This happens because of the exposed dentin. 

Bleeding or swollen gums

If the tooth decay is close to your gum line, the infection can affect the surrounding gums. This, in turn, can lead to swollen or bleeding gums—particularly when flossing or brushing. Bleeding gums also indicate possible gingivitis—and this warrants immediate medical attention. 

No symptoms

Small cavities don’t show symptoms. That’s why most patients will come to learn about these cavities during their dental checkups. At times, it can be a challenge not to realize that there’s a lingering problem with your teeth—and this allows the decay to grow. This shows the importance of regular dental checkups. 

Causes of tooth decay

The common causes of tooth decay include sugary and sticky foods and drinks. The more sugar you consume, the more acid is produced, which leads to tooth decay. Combining sugar with plaque weakens the enamel, thus making it susceptible to tooth decay.

Whenever you take a sugary food or drink, your teeth are susceptible to damage within the next 20 minutes. Thus, it’s essential to understand the common causes of tooth decay, as this allows you to take good care of your teeth.

The following are the factors that lead to tooth decay.

  • Poor oral hygiene – failure to brush and floss your teeth regularly can cause plaque to build up on your teeth. This ultimately leads to tooth decay.
  • Deep tooth crevices – people with these issues are prone to tooth decay as they allow plaque and bacteria to grow easily. The best way to deal with this problem is by using dental sealant on the uninfected teeth.
  • Improper nutrition – eating foods high in carbohydrates, sugar, and acid can accelerate tooth decay. Therefore, you should always avoid sugary foods if you want to prevent or slow down tooth decay.
  • Dry mouth – the saliva in your mouth helps in washing plaque away from your teeth, as well as neutralizing the acid. However, bacteria and plaque can easily build up if you have a dry mouth.
  • Age – there are numerous reasons why cavities are common in older people. Some of these reasons include certain medications that might cause dryness in the mouth, gum recession that comes with age, as well as lack of proper oral hygiene.
  • Medical conditions – certain medical treatments, such as cancer treatment can expose your neck and head to radiation. This, in turn, can lead to a tooth cavity, especially when the saliva makeup is changed to promote bacterial growth.

Preventing tooth decay

It’s possible to prevent tooth decay. Observing proper dental and oral hygiene can go a long way in preventing tooth decay. The following are some simple tips that can assist you in preventing cavities. Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult with your dentist to know what’s best for you.
  • Brush your teeth regularly – always ensure that you brush your teeth at least twice a day—preferably after every meal. Make sure that you use a fluoride toothpaste when brushing your teeth. Then use dental floss to remove the food particles between your teeth, where your toothbrush couldn’t reach.
  • Rinse your mouth with mouthwash – whenever possible, use a mouthwash to rinse your teeth, especially if you are at a high risk of developing cavities.
  • Schedule regular dental visits – it’s always a good idea to get professional dental cleanings and inspection at least twice a year. This is usually a good way for your dentist to identify and prevent potential dental issues.
  • Drink tap water once in a while – tap water has some extra fluoride, which can help in the fight against tooth decay. Thus, ensure that you substitute your bottled water with tap water now and then.
  • Avoid regular sipping and snacking – this particularly important for sugary and cold snacks and drinks. Whenever you take these snacks or drinks, you create an environment for mouth bacteria to create acids that can destroy your teeth.
  • Eat healthy foods – certain foods and drinks can benefit your teeth. Thus, you should always avoid foodstuffs that can easily stick on your teeth for extended periods of time. However, you should consider taking foodstuffs like vegetables and fruits. These foodstuffs help in boosting saliva flow. Also, sugar-free chewing gums and unsweetened coffee can help in washing away food particles.