The D-word can conjure up a lot of stress for the average person. Most of these feelings come from a place on confusion, as we know the diagnosis and procedures can be invasive but the who, what and why is unclear. Rather than fearing tooth decay, understand what it is, how it occurs and how it can be prevented. To avoid the drama (and dental bill) know thy enemy and adequately educate yourself.
What is it?
Ok, so outside of your biggest nightmare – what actually is tooth decay? Your teeth are about as strong as it gets when it comes to substance, but they are not invincible. The condition of tooth decay is a result of cavities (small holes) in the tooth. There are several stages to tooth decay and can result in the tooth needing root canal or to be removed.
Outside of cavities, tooth decay can also cause considerable pain, infection, and actually inhibit your jaw movement. Smaller (but still notable) consequences can include bad breath and one large bill. If you aren’t sure if this is a condition you may have, seeing a dentist in Bentleigh will give you a greater understanding of what tooth decay is and if your teeth are exhibiting signs.
How does it occur?
Ok, but how does tooth decay occur? It should be of no surprise to anyone that tooth decay is caused by plaque bacteria which we just so happen to get from all of our favorite vices. That’s right those yummy things we eat and drink are highly acidic and over time will dissolve the tooth enamel which then forms a cavity.
The enamel of a tooth is our only line of defence, and if worn down, it becomes brittle, breaks away, and the tooth is left vulnerable. The deeper the cavity goes, the more damage will unlikely insue. This will be the time when you likely start to notice a problem and experience some pain. If you’re someone who is known to skip a dentist appointment or two, this is going to be how your issues occur.
How is it prevented?
For many dentists, this is the ‘hate to say I told you so’ moment. Ultimately, tooth decay can be prevented with a regular visit to your dentist for a check-up and routine clean. Your dentist will be able to alert you to early signs of cavities and be able to compare x-rays each 6 month to determine the speed at which your enamel and tooth decay is pacing.
Brushing your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste and rinsing with mouthwash should be the bare minimum of dental health and this is what is going to keep your teeth safe between check-ups. You should also wait 30 minutes after eating and drinking before brushing teeth – and for many of us that may mean getting up earlier in the morning. You can always be more conscious of what you eat and drink and how you consume it. If you must drink highly acidic drinks (soft drink and juice) try and use a straw to reduce the impact of the liquid on your teeth.
Not all dental experiences need to be numbing and negative. Like any health regime, treat your teeth like a temple and take all necessary steps to reduce harm and future problems that will be very costly! On your next visit to the dentist do your own Q&A session and find out where you stand, what else you can be doing and any other recommendations they may have.