You probably know the definition of tooth decay: permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth that turn into tiny holes. Also called cavities, these spots are caused by natural bacteria in your mouth that combine with acid and food particles. Together, they form a translucent film on your teeth called plaque. If left untreated, it starts to eat away at the enamel, which leads to the deterioration of the tooth and causes decay.
In today’s blog post, let’s consider six common reasons for tooth decay.
1. Poor nutrition.
It’s no secret that sugar leads to cavities. Oral bacteria thrives on sugar and forms the film of acid on the teeth. This process happens immediately and even multiple times during a single meal. Think beyond your typical sugary desserts! It’s important to realize that a lot of foods have hidden sugars, including cereal, juice, soda, condiments, flavored yogurt, and more.
Additionally, you want to avoid food high in carbohydrates. Instead, fill your diet with fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
2. Frequent snacking and sipping.
In addition to what you eat and drink, how often you eat and drink matters. If you consistently consume sugary foods throughout the day, you’ll create a breeding ground for oral bacteria, which leads to more plaque development.
3. Crooked teeth.
Did you know that you’re more prone to tooth decay if your teeth are misaligned or overlapping? You may have hard-to-reach spots where decay grows. In this case, you can ask your dentist to apply a dental sealant, which will prevent bacteria and plaque from forming. You may also want to consider braces or Invisalign to straighten your teeth.
4. Grinding your teeth.
When you grind your teeth, you remove the outer layer of tooth enamel, making you more susceptible to cavities. You may not even realize you’re grinding your teeth, as it often occurs during sleep or times of high stress. To prevent this cause of tooth decay, you can wear a night guard to bed and/or adopt ways to relieve your stress, such as meditation or yoga.
5. Poor oral hygiene.
To properly care for your teeth, you should brush them twice a day for two minutes each time. Better yet, make an effort to brush after each meal. It’s also important to floss and rinse your mouth with mouthwash once a day.
Of course, you should schedule professional cleanings every six months too. If caught early on, your dentist can easily fix a cavity with a filling. If the decay persists, it may infect the pulp, or inside, of the tooth and require more severe treatment, like a root canal or even extraction.
Yes, genetics play a role in tooth decay! You may be more susceptible to cavities if your family member’s have deep crevices in their teeth and/or fragile enamel that easily corrodes.
Want to learn more? Check out last month’s blog post, featuring three myths and three facts about cavities!
Call us at 407.834.0330 to schedule your appointment today! Check out our Dental Blog to learn more about topics like restorative dentistry, dental anxiety, and more.