When you think about it, your teeth are pretty strong. They’re able to cut and bite into your favorite meals, and even grind up some chicken bones. However, tooth decay and loss is a real possibility when you don’t take care of your teeth.
When this happens, you’ll have to spend hundreds of dollars in dental fees to have the issue corrected, or to get a set of implants or veneers to give your mouth a healthy appearance. Prevention, however, is always better than cure, and any good dentist will tell you that he/she would much prefer to see you with pearly whites than having to extract decayed teeth.
You are right to worry about tooth decay and loss because once your permanent set is destroyed, you will not grow more as you did with your baby teeth. So kudos for you for taking the first step in preventing tooth loss and decay.
What Causes Tooth Decay
The mouth is filled with bacteria. Some good, some not so good that can be harmful to the teeth, gums, and tongue.
When you eat certain foods, especially sugary and starchy foods, the bacteria and saliva in your mouth mix to produce acids. These acids create a film on the teeth that can eat away at the enamel or outer surface of the tooth. Humans have realized that this can pose a huge problem so we have developed various products to counteract this acid, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and fluoride in water, that combine with minerals in our saliva and good bacteria that help to remove these acids and repair the teeth.
When we don’t use these products, or even rinse our mouth with plain water, the acid continues to attack the enamel, at which point white spots may appear on the teeth. This is one of the first signs of decay.
Over time, a hole will begin to form in the tooth, otherwise known as a cavity. This cavity can be filled to avoid further problems. If it is not addressed, it can lead to toothaches, tooth sensitivity, bad breath, and discoloration. If it goes untreated, the acid and bacteria will continue to eat away at the tooth until it gets to the inner-most region called the pulp that contains the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth. If this gets infected, it can cause swelling, bleeding, and discomfort to the entire jawbone. This may also lead to recession of the gums, tissue loss, and eventually tooth loss.
What Can Be Done To Prevent It
Luckily, you are not at that stage and you can prevent tooth decay and tooth loss with a few simple practices. These include:
Using fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash after eating or drinking food
Many of us sometimes have a snack or meal then go about our daily tasks without considering the damage that practice could have on our teeth. Brushing your teeth or using mouthwash after each meal is ideal, but if you have a busy schedule, try to brush your teeth at least twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride.
Visiting your dentist for cleanings
Your toothbrush can only do so much and no more. This is why persons are encouraged to visit the dentist at least twice a year to have their teeth cleaned professionally. A dentist can get into all the crevices and corners that you missed to remove plaque build-up and can spot early signs of tooth decay before it gets any worse.
Flossing is an important part of oral hygiene and should happen ideally before brushing teeth to dislodge food particles from between the teeth. This ensures that you get a more thorough clean as the toothpaste bristles are not able to get every spot. If you don’t have enough time to floss every time you brush your teeth, set 5 minutes aside before bed each night to get rid of all the particles that may have lodged themselves between your teeth during the day.
Getting dental sealant
A dental sealant is a special coating that is applied to the surface of your molars to prevent bacteria and plaque from accumulating in the grooves. These are especially recommended for children and adolescents since they are more likely to develop cavities from all the candy they eat and their forgetfulness when it comes to dental hygiene.
Drinking tap water
The water from your tap contains a special substance called fluoride which is added to the public water supply to prevent mineral loss and prevent acid build-up in the mouth. Bottled water generally doesn’t have enough fluoride, so you may dissolve fluoride tablets in the bottled before you drink them.
Limiting sugary and starchy foods
Since these are the culprits, limit your intake. If you have children, save candy for special occasions to encourage healthy eating practices. Instead, ingest foods rich in Vitamins A, C, D, and K, along with calcium, phosphorus, and potassium which promote good oral health.