A cavity is a process; typically, you don’t just get one overnight. Cavities are caused by tooth decay, which develops for various reasons. Fortunately, tooth decay can be prevented and reversed if caught early on. When you follow a healthy oral care routine and make smart food choices, you are lowering your risk for tooth decay and cavities. Knowing how, why, and where decay forms can help you understand what steps to take to ensure you remain cavity-free.
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is a disease that damages and breaks down teeth. It stems from bacteria found in plaque that covers your teeth after you eat. This bacteria turns the sugars you consume into acid that breaks down your enamel – the tooth’s top protective layer. A cavity can form when the decay gets through your tooth’s enamel and creates a hole.
Causes and Symptoms of Tooth Decay
No matter what age, anyone is at risk of tooth decay. The chances of tooth decay increase if you consume sugary foods and drinks often, have a dry mouth, have weak enamel because of family history or a previous condition, or do not take good care of your teeth.
Symptoms you may experience with tooth decay are:
- bad breath that does not go away after brushing
- sensitivity to heat or cold
- spots on your teeth
- tooth pain
Ways of Lowering Your Risk of Tooth Decay
Decay can be tricky because it can form in areas that are sometimes hard to clean. Tooth decay is usually found between teeth and in the grooves of your back molars, where bits of food can collect because a toothbrush can’t reach them. The good thing about tooth decay is that you can avoid it as long as you maintain good oral hygiene. That’s why brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing in between your teeth, and seeing a dentist regularly for cleanings are so important.
You also lower your risk of tooth decay when you:
- Limit how often you consume sugary snacks and drinks.
- Stay hydrated to produce saliva in the mouth that washes away sugars and makes acid weaker.
- Use oral care products that have the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
- Choose to place sealants on your back teeth as a barrier to stop harmful bacteria.
Tooth decay isn’t something you want to have to deal with, so stay ahead of it with these preventative oral tips. If you find yourself dealing with a tooth decay issue, reach out to our Dental Arts experts at (619) 444-1001, or schedule an appointment here.