Tooth Caries (a.k.a. "tooth decay" or "cavity") is a common dental
disease where bacteria damages hard tooth structure namely enamel, dentin, and cementum. Regular checkups are necessary to identify if the oral hygiene you are practicing at home is doing an effective job at preventing tooth decay.
Tooth decay begins to form when bateria collects on:
- Chewing surfaces
- Between teeth
- At the Gumline
Brushing and flossing are effective ways to prevent tooth decay. When you brush correctly, you are affecting the chewing surfaces and the gumline. When you floss correctly, you are removing bateria from the interproximal areas (or between teeth spaces) of the teeth. Best results are achieved when you floss after every meal. You should floss at least daily each night before going to bed.
When you eat, the food converts to acids that attack all surfaces of your teeth. Bacteria (or plaque) in your mouth produce the acids which work to cause tooth decay. Fortunately, your mouth has naturnal defenses against tooth decay.
The saliva your mouth produces contains minerals that defend the tooth surfaces under attack by the plaque-acid residing in your mouth. Unfortunately, if you neglect the proper care of your teeth, the rate of acid attack becomes greater than the rate of repair and that's the point when tooth decay sets in.
To prevent tooth decay, do the following:
- Brush your teeth after every meal or at least twice a day. Brushing immediately after each meal prevents the formation of the acids that attack the surfaces of the teeth.
- Floss after every meal. The spaces between the teeth are the most difficult to access by brushing alone. If flossing after every meal is not practical, make sure you are flossing at least once per day. Just before going to bed is the best time to floss if you are only able to floss once per day.
- Have a fluoride treatment every six months. Fluoride in toothpaste is a good daily practice and adding a fluoride treatment with each regular treatment will help fortify your teeth against tooth decay and aid in increasing the repair rate.
- Chew sugarless gum. Chewing sugarless gum promotes increased saliva production which introduces more of the acid fighting minerals to the teeth. When you are not able to brush after a meal, chew a piece of sugarless gum until you are able to brush or for as long as possible.
Many foods are more likely to produce harmful acids than others. Foods high in sugar and carbohydrates or foods that stick to the teeth are the most likely to promote tooth decay. Food or candy that takes longer to dissolve accelerate the creation of harmful acids. If you like to eat foods high in sugar and carbohydrates, try to brush as soon as possible after eating. The longer you go without brushing, the longer bacteria and acids remain on your teeth.
Bits of food naturally tend to collect between teeth and in spaces on the chewing surfaces. For people with braces, food collects next to the teeth between and around the braces. When the braces and teeth aren't properly cleaned and cared for, the likelihood of tooth decay around the braces is increased and the appearance of the teeth is diminished.
Call us today to schedule an appointment. The staff at Bangor Family Dentistry is highly skilled at helping you maintain good oral health.
Call 207-947-4767 or request an appointment through our online scheduler.