Tooth Decay and Prevention | Comfort Care Dental
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Tooth decay can start with just that one cookie every night after brushing, a missed flossing or just that you are too lazy or skipped brushing when you are too sleepy after a crazy night out. Without noticing things can occur that cause food to stick to your teeth longer than it should. When food gets stuck there it starts to cause tooth decay.

What Causes Cavities and Plaque

Cavities, also known as tooth decay, are permanently damaged areas of the hard surface of the teeth, which transform into small holes and openings. Cavities occur when sugars and starches from food are left on teeth for the bacteria in your mouth to digest and turn into acid. A combination of the bacteria, acid, saliva, and food debris forms plaque which sticks to the teeth, after which the acid from the plaque dissolves the enamel surface of the tooth, creating cavities. Not satisfied with just ruining the teeth, plaque can also develop on the roots of your teeth, causing damage to the bone supporting the tooth.

Bacteria in Your Mouth

cartoon tooth with people coming out of its mouthMany people might be shocked to learn what actually causes that nasty plaque that builds up in your mouth. Some are under the impression that it is merely just the bits of food that have settled on your teeth. While it is partly responsible for the build-up you’ll surely develop if you practice poor oral hygiene, the truth of the matter is a bit more sinister. That nasty film is, in fact, the byproduct of bacteria that lives in your mouth. You heard it right. You have microscopic crawlies living in your mouth.

That is correct. In fact, you have on average about forty different species of bacteria in your mouth at any one time. Scientists have discovered more than seven-hundred species total that has been known to populate the human mouth. Left untreated, plaque build-up can result in caries, also known as cavities. There have also been findings that link poor oral hygiene to heart disease. Before you freak out, here are the facts about what goes on in the average person’s mouth. While accumulating at least some form of bacteria is unavoidable, with regular brushing and flossing, the effects of this microbe of the mouth can be benign. There are actually good bacteria that live in there too. These organisms actually eat the compounds in your mouth that can cause bad breath according to webmd.com. It’s the combination of certain types of bacteria in conjunction with certain foods that gives mouth bacteria a bad rap.

Key Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath or halitosis can have several triggers such as eating habits, lack of proper dental hygiene, as well as being a sign of other health problems. What you eat, starts to break down in your mouth almost instantly, and after digestion ends up absorbed in your blood. From there it is gets carried to your lungs which in turn goes back into your breath. Brushing is only a temporary band aid in this situation, as the smell will not disappear completely until the food has completed its journey through your body. Bad dental hygiene can also add to this as, if you do not brush twice a day and floss regularly, pieces of food will get trapped, encouraging the growth of bacteria in all parts of your mouth. If you have persistent bad breath, combined with a strange taste, it could be a sign of a more serious issue, such as gum disease, diabetes or pneumonia among others.

Prevention Before Cure

thumbs up cartoon tooth holding toothbrushCavities are not a fun matter. They can cause a lot of pain while being treated, and in severe cases even necessitate the removal of the affected tooth. In order to avoid the whole process, the best thing to do is to develop really good dental hygiene habits. Good dental hygiene is of paramount importance in protecting your teeth from plaque. You need to brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing or use of the interdental cleaners should be done daily. Snacks between meals should be limited, and low in food with a lot of carbohydrates, such as candy and pastries.

If your dentist thinks it is appropriate, apply dental sealants to your teeth as this will protect your teeth from much of the damage that can cause cavities. Eating a balanced diet with as few in-between meal snacks as possible is a big plus, especially if you make sure to limit your consumption of foods that are high in carbohydrates. Finally, a regular visit to a dentist for check-ups and cleanings should never be avoided.

If it’s been a while since you have had your last check-up, make sure to call your dentist and make an appointment. Preventing or catching cavities as they are just starting to form is the best way to treat your future self.

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