Your oral health is an essential aspect of your total body health. Tooth decay can undermine your oral health and create severe problems down the road. It’s vital to understand how decay can occur. Let’s answer the question, “How does tooth decay develop?” and explain preventive steps you can take to stop it. Contact Lovett Dental Webster to learn more.
Tooth decay begins with plaque formation. When you don’t brush regularly or thoroughly, plaque starts to form on your teeth. This formation can make brushing even more difficult because the bristles are unable to remove the bacteria that exist below the plaque. As a result, the bacteria start to eat away at the enamel.
Plaque can quickly spread from tooth to tooth as well. Without flossing and brushing, it can cover every tooth and cause massive decay.
Besides being unable to brush away harmful bacteria trapped below the plaque, the plaque itself can cause damage to your teeth. The acid that exists in plaque can start to eat away at the enamel of your tooth. Eventually, tiny holes form. Bacteria can then swoop inside those holes and fester. At this point, a cavity starts to form.
You’ll also start to experience pain at this point. Dentin, a layer that rests below the enamel, receives the brunt of the acid next. It’s a sensitive layer with a direct connection to the nerve system. As a result, you start to feel pain or tooth sensitivity.
The next step is the spread of the infection. The bacteria continue to seep through the tooth and the surrounding area. They will move through the pulp next. This area contains blood vessels and nerves. In response to the infection, the pulp will start to swell. With nowhere to swell, it will transfer a lot of pain to the nerves instead.
Sometimes, the pain travels right to the bone. Serious mouth infections can also occur if the bacteria manage to enter the bloodstream through the blood vessels.
Causes Behind Decaying Teeth
Now that you understand how tooth decay develops, it’s essential to know why it grows. Causes include the location of teeth, inadequate brushing, dry mouth, dental devices, and heartburn. Other reasons relate to eating and drinking. They include the effects of certain foods and drinks, frequent snacking, and bedtime infant feeding.
Preventing Tooth Decay
To stop the development of decay, there are a few preventive steps that you can take.
The first is to brush and floss your teeth regularly. Regarding tooth location, the back of your teeth is the area most likely to develop cavities. This is because it’s harder to reach. Careful attention to this area can help ensure the removal of plaque and keep your teeth bacteria-free. You can also visit your dentist to receive a thorough teeth cleaning.
Another preventive measure to take is to avoid foods and drinks that cause decay. These are foods that cling to your teeth for a long time after consumption. Milk, candy, soda, honey, ice cream, and even chips can all cling to your teeth for several hours after you eat them. A way to fix this is to brush your teeth right after consuming those items.
To help with dry mouth, you can either drink plenty of fluids, especially water, or use an oral medication that aids in the production of saliva. Saliva is an essential part of keeping your teeth clean. As saliva washes over your teeth, it cleans your mouth and repels bacteria. Dry mouth preserves bacteria.
Your Dentist Can Help
Specific dental devices, like worn fittings, braces, and retainers, can influence the growth of decay. If you cannot remove them yourself, then visit a dentist so that they can safely clean the devices for you.