Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in adults and children — fortunately preventable with routine, affordable dental maintenance. Tooth decay is the breakdown of your tooth enamel, which is the outermost layer of your tooth. Enamel protects your teeth from damage. While strong and resilient, tooth enamel can erode over time with increased exposure to acid caused by sugary and starchy foods. The result is tooth decay, commonly in the form of tooth cavities. These small holes in your teeth can expand and cause severe problems when left untreated.
Common Causes of Tooth Decay
Sugar from food and beverages reacts with the bacteria in your mouth to form an acid that erodes enamel and causes tooth decay. You can wash away this acid with regular tooth brushing and flossing, but if you don’t practice these healthy habits, the issue worsens and you’re more susceptible to tooth decay.
Risk Factors for Tooth Decay
- Poor oral hygiene, including skipped brushing and flossing
- Excessive consumption of sugary or starchy foods and beverages
- Smoking or the use of tobacco products
- Acid reflux, which causes stomach acid to enter the mouth
- Dry mouth or lack of saliva in the mouth
- Eating disorders like bulimia, which results in repeated exposure of stomach acid
Tooth Decay Prevention
Fortunately tooth decay is largely preventable with easy, accessible practices. Follow these tips to limit your risk for tooth decay:
- Brush your teeth twice daily
- Floss daily
- Use a fluoride toothpaste, which helps strengthen your tooth enamel
- Use an anti-bacterial mouthwash
- Consume sugary or starchy foods and beverages in moderation (or avoid altogether!)
- Drink water throughout the day to help wash away bacteria and keep your mouth moist
- Visit the dentist for dental cleanings and check-ups every six months
Tooth Decay Treatment
If you have a cavity, the cavity will most likely need to be treated with a tooth filling. Tooth fillings prevent further damage to the tooth. Dental fillings are non-invasive and restore the structure of the tooth.
ABOUT YOUR SHREWSBURY DENTISTS:
At Modern Dentistry, Todd A. Pizzi, DDS, and Luciana Messina, DDS, are dedicated to providing high-quality cosmetic, restorative, and preventive dentistry services to patients and families in Shrewsbury, Worcester, North and South Grafton, Westborough, Southborough, Northborough, Boylston, Hopkinton, Millbury, and all surrounding communities. To schedule your next appointment, contact our office by calling (508) 842-6356 today.