Tooth decay is the softening of your tooth enamel caused by acids. These acids are created when plaque bacteria break down sugar in your mouth.
What Causes Cavities and Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates become trapped between teeth and are not completely removed with brushing and flossing. The plaque bacteria generate acidic by-products that eat away at the tooth enamel, slowly creating holes in the teeth called cavities. Without treatment, these holes can grow larger over time and may even destroy the whole tooth.
Major causes of tooth decay are sugary, sticky foods and beverages. The more sugar consumed, the more acid, which gets produced leading to decay. Sugar combines with plaque to weaken the enamel leaving you vulnerable to tooth decay. Each time you eat a sugary snack, your teeth are vulnerable to damage from the acids for the next 20 minutes. It is important to understand the causes of tooth decay so you can learn the proper way to care for your teeth and care for your health.
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Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Decay and Cavities
The most common and effective treatment on tooth decay and cavities is a filling, which stops the cavity from growing any larger. So if you are experiencing any signs of tooth decay or a cavity, it is extremely important to see a dental professional immediately for treatment.
The use of products containing fluoride can help to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Fluoride flows into weak spots to help rebuild these areas before they can become cavities.
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How Do You Treat and Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities?
The most immediate form of treatment is to see your dental professional to have the cavity filled.
To help prevent tooth decay and cavities certain measures can be taken to help strengthen your teeth:
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks that feed the bacteria in your mouth.
- Brush regularly with a fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride helps prevent cavities by slowing the breakdown of enamel and speeding up the remineralization process. The new enamel that will form is harder and more resistant to acid.
- Floss daily to help remove plaque and food particles from the spaces between your teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. This helps promote healthy teeth as well as healthy gums.
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How to Protect Your Children from Tooth Decay and Cavities
Helping to prevent tooth decay and cavities in children’s teeth starts with teaching them proper brushing habits and helping to take care of their teeth from a young age.
- Check with your dental professional to determine when you should begin using a fluoride toothpaste on your children.
- Visit their dentist every 6 months for a checkup.
- Be sure your child brushes for at least 2 minutes, twice a day. Ensure they pay extra attention to their back teeth, as that is where the most plaque buildup occurs.
- As soon as their teeth begin to touch, help them floss on a daily basis.
When it comes to tooth decay and cavities, a healthier mouth starts with good brushing habits.