A dazzling smile can win millions of hearts and make friends instantly. A healthy mouth is an invaluable asset and a good set of teeth plays a very important role in chewing food, digestion as well as our speech. Most of us neglect our teeth and take them for granted. We often tend to ignore our teeth while devoting all our attention to the rest of our body. It is only when we notice something wrong such as a toothache or discoloration do we feel the requirement of consulting a dentist. Lack of proper oral hygiene can lead to serious consequences resulting in Tooth Decay.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Decay of the outer surface of a tooth due to bacterial action is termed Tooth Decay. It is the destruction of the hard outer layer of the tooth called tooth enamel. Tooth decay is damage that occurs to teeth which can result in cavities, dental abscesses, or even tooth loss. Cavities are caused by tooth decay.
There may be varying signs and symptoms of cavities depending on their extent and location. The symptoms may be very mild initially but become more prominent as the decay gets larger. Some of the symptoms can be
- Sudden pain in the tooth or pain without any cause
- Tooth sensitivity
- Experiencing pain while eating or drinking something hot,cold, or sweet
- Visible holes in the teeth
- Brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth
Causes of Tooth Decay
- The location of the tooth matters the most. Molars and Pre Molars are more prone to decay as they have several grooves and multiple roots which can collect food particles. These are more difficult to keep clean than the front teeth which are smoother and easy to reach.
- Certain foods and drinks such as milk, ice cream, honey, sugar, cake, cookies, dry cereal, and chips cling to the teeth for a long time and are more likely to cause decay than those foods which are easily washed away by saliva.
- Frequent snacking or sipping on soda, sugary drinks, or other acidic drinks leads to tooth decay.
- Beverages given to infants at night just before sleeping remain on their teeth for long hours feeding decay-causing bacteria. Young children and the elderly are at risk of tooth decay.
- Inadequate brushing can also cause disease-causing bacteria.
- Fluoride helps in preventing cavities and can even reverse the earliest signs of tooth damage. Not getting sufficient fluoride is also a cause for tooth decay.
- Lack of saliva or a dry mouth can cause tooth decay as saliva helps to prevent tooth decay by washing away plaque and food from teeth.
Prevention of Tooth Decay
Prevention is always better than cure. Following these habits will be beneficial in preventing tooth decay.
- Brushing teeth at least twice a day with fluoride-containing toothpaste.
- Brushing after each meal preferably or rinsing the mouth thoroughly once the meal has been eaten.
- Clean between teeth daily with dental floss or an interdental brush.
- Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking. Avoid candy, chips, etc., and eat more salads.
- Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks
- Do not brush immediately after consuming acidic or sugary products
- Avoid grinding your teeth
- Do not use tobacco products.
- Drink fluoridated water
- Visit the dentist regularly for health checkups.
Awareness about the causes, symptoms, and ways to prevent Tooth Decay will ensure a happy as well as healthy life and always keep your smile radiant.