Tooth decay is a war that is easy to win if you understand what causes tooth decay and the simple steps you can take to prevent it.
The Invisible War In Your Mouth
It is hard to believe but there is a war going on inside your mouth. In the sheltered areas around your teeth there are billions of bacteria growing in a layer called plaque. In these hidden areas the bacteria can resist the cleaning actions of your tongue and saliva. This is where the war takes place.
The action starts when we have a bite to eat. The plaque bacteria are covered with sugars and they quickly turn these sugars into acids which attack the tooth enamel.
Our body’s first defense is saliva which bathes the tooth surfaces and neutralizes the acids. Your saliva is full of minerals that replace the ones dissolved away by the plaque acids.
After about 20 minutes the enamel surface is back to normal. But only for a while. As soon as the next meal comes along the battle begins again.
When Plaque Bacteria Wins
If the acid attacks happen often as they do when we snack on sweet foods, more minerals can be eaten away than replaced and the enamel collapses.
Now bacteria can get into the tissues below and the tooth is in trouble. From this small breach in the enamel destruction spreads through the tooth as the bacteria stars softening the dentin layer underneath. It is not until the decay hits the sensitive pulp in the middle that you know that there is a problem; you get a toothache.
But by now a lot of the tooth has already been destroyed.
The Remedy and Prevention
Although we can remove the decay it is much better to prevent it from happening, that’s where brushing and flossing come in.
By removing plaque, you allow the saliva to get to your teeth where it is needed. Also by cutting out between meal snacks, especially sweet snacks, you reduce the acid attack.
With a bit of care you can help your body win the war against tooth decay.
Dr. Gregory Erramouspe, Wyoming Dentist