What Causes Tooth Decay? Overview
Tooth decay often results in nasty cavities, leading to other dental issues, but what causes tooth decay? Natural bacteria in your mouth combine with acid and food particles to form a translucent film over your teeth.
If left untreated, this film will start to eat away at the tooth enamel, resulting in the tooth’s deterioration, which causes cavities. Your trusted dentist can treat a cavity with a filling, so it is imperative to visit often at least once every six months.
If decay is left to flourish, it can infect the pulp of the tooth, which will require a more severe treatment like a root canal or, eventually, tooth extraction.
9 Causes of Tooth Decay
When it comes to finding the root cause of your tooth decay, you can narrow it down to these nine common factors:
1. Neglecting your Teeth
One of the most notable causes of tooth decay is poor oral hygiene. It is common knowledge that you need to brush your teeth, but did you know that you should be doing this twice a day for two minutes each time?
It is even better to brush after every meal if you can.
Another element you should incorporate into your oral hygiene routine is flossing, which you should do daily, and rinsing your mouth with mouthwash.
Lastly, it would be best to go for regular professional cleanings at least twice a year. While your teeth are cleaned, your dentist can check for other issues.
2. Grinding your Teeth
If you grind your teeth, you will be more susceptible to tooth decay as the action strips away the outer layer of the enamel. It is typical for tooth grinders not to know they are doing it, as this usually happens when asleep or stressed.
To prevent this, you can wear a night guard, and if you grind your teeth due to stress, maybe try some relieving exercises like yoga or meditation.
3. Misaligned Teeth
Misaligned teeth or any overlapping provide hard–to–reach crevices where tooth decay can grow undisturbed. A good oral hygiene routine would not be enough to keep the corrosion at bay, but there is a solution.
Speak to your dentist about a dental sealant. That will prevent the bacteria/acid film from forming around your teeth.
There is another option, but it might be severe, depending on the severity of your condition. You could always have corrective surgery to fix misaligned or overlapping teeth.
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Not eating a healthy diet can cause tooth decay. Staying away from foods high in carbohydrates and acid will make you less susceptible to decay. Instead, stick to fresh, healthy foods and drinks like certain fruits (some fruits contain a lot of sugar), lean meats, and vegetables.
Believe it or not, genetics can play a massive part in tooth decay. For example, you may inherit your family’s deep crevices or other dental issues like fragile enamel that is easily corrodible.
Unfortunately, you cannot do much about genetics, but you can get a dental sealant or corrective surgery.
The mouth’s bacteria thrive on sugar. It is like adding petrol to the flame. The bacteria feed off the sugar, forming an acid film around your teeth.
Unlike other dental issues that develop over time, this can happen seconds after consumption, occurring more than once in the same meal. That is the reasoning behind brushing after every meal.
It is essential to know that it’s not just candy and chocolate you need to avoid. There are a lot of food and drinks that contain hidden sugars. Cereal, fruit juice, condiments, and flavored yogurt contain high amounts of sugar.
7. Acidic Foods
Acidic foods are one of the main culprits of tooth decay. Unfortunately, not many people know the majority of the foods that have a high acidic content, which includes:
- Fruit juice
- Processed foods
Acidic foods are dangerous because they do not have to go through the bacteria process like sugar; they cling directly to the teeth, speeding up decay.
As with most human body parts, teeth deteriorate with age due to prescription medication, receding gum lines, and years of bad oral hygiene catching up to you. The only way to prevent this is to go for regular dental check-ups.
9. Dry Mouth
People who suffer from dry mouth are more susceptible to tooth decay. That is because saliva plays a huge part in removing food particles from your teeth and rinsing the mouth. Dry mouth is caused by:
- Prescription medication
You must see your dentist regularly for professional cleanings if you have a dry mouth.
Do not Avoid the Dentist!
Letting tooth decay flourish will be harder to remove and cause severe dental problems. You should set up an appointment at least once every six months. That will allow your dentist to detect and treat any issues quickly.
Rather have a simple, pain-free procedure than more invasive like root canals or tooth extraction. You will also save a lot of money as these procedures are costly.
Tooth decay results from natural bacteria in your mouth feeding off food particles and combining with acid to form a film around your teeth. The acid from this film eats away at your tooth’s enamel which causes cavities.
You never want to leave decay untreated as it could infect the pulp of your tooth and cause a severe toothache, among other issues. In addition, your dentist will have to perform a costly root canal to remove the infected pulp, which is usually not covered by dental insurance.
Some leading causes of tooth decay include poor oral hygiene, genetics, age, dry mouth, unhealthy diet, and teeth grinding.