Dental Decay

Understanding Dental Decay

Dental decay, or caries, is a result of bacterial and acid erosion of the outer tooth enamel, and is the leading cause of tooth loss in both adults and children. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, is the most common cause of cavities and is formed when bacteria in the mouth interact with food, drinks and saliva to produce acids that damage the enamel.

The formation of cavities can be minimized with a combination of practices such as brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, routine dental visits and avoiding sugary foods. If left untreated, dental decay can significantly weaken the enamel and cause major damage to the teeth.

Symptoms of Dental Decay

The signs and symptoms of dental decay can include:

  • Toothache
  • Intense sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Visibly chipped or damaged teeth
  • Discoloration of the teeth (brown, yellow, or black spots)
  • Visible holes, or cavities, in the teeth

Preventing Dental Decay

In addition to brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and avoiding sugary foods, there are several other ways to help prevent dental decay:

  • Drink tap water, which is treated with fluoride, to help protect your teeth
  • Visit the dentist every six months for regular check-ups and cleaning
  • Limit snacks between meals
  • Avoid sugary drinks, such as soda, juice, sports drinks, and energy drinks
  • Chewing sugar-free gum can help increase saliva production and help remove bacteria from the teeth

By taking preventive measures and practicing good oral hygiene habits, you can help reduce your risk of developing cavities. For more information on preventing dental decay, visit your dentist for a personal consultation.