Causes of Tooth Decay (And What You Can Do About It)

January 20, 2021

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in your mouth make acids that attack the enamel. So it’s no surprise that it is often seen in places where bacteria sit for long periods of time. Poor dental hygiene and bad habits (like consuming too many sugary sodas, candy, fruit drinks and non-nutritious snacks) can increase risk of tooth decay. Excessive sugar increases production of plaque that will break down tooth enamel. So when bacteria come into contact with sugar in the mouth, acid is produced that attacks the teeth. Then, this will eventually lead to tooth decay and cavities.


And even though tooth decay is preventable, it is still an extremely common disease. If tooth decay is left untreated, it can result in pain, infection or tooth loss. But like we said, the good news is, it is preventable. Here are tips that you can follow to keep your mouth healthy and help prevent tooth decay.


1. Brush and floss daily.

You’ve heard it before, but be sure you are brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. Keep the goal in mind to remove plaque quickly and efficiently. Why? Because the longer plaque sticks around, the more likely it will cause inflammation, which can then progress to advanced forms of gum disease.


2. Schedule exams and dental cleanings.

The American Dental Association recommends that you visit your dentist at least once a year to get a professional teeth cleaning. If you have periodontal issues, your dentist may recommend teeth cleanings more often. So even if you have healthy teeth, cleanings should be an essential part of your oral care routine. Although brushing and flossing is important, there are areas in your mouth that are difficult to clean yourself. Cleanings effectively remove plaque, which can become serious, and expensive, if left untreated.


3. Incorporate fluoride.

Studies have indicated that fluoride is effective and the most efficient way to prevent tooth decay, one of the most common childhood diseases. Fluoride can be applied directly with toothpaste, mouth rinses or professionally administered with treatments by your dentist.


4. Chew sugar free gum.

According to the ADA, studies show that chewing sugar free gum can actually help prevent tooth decay. Specifically, those who chewed sugarless gum for at least 20 minutes after meal consumption had less tooth decay than those that didn’t.


5. Use a therapeutic mouthwash.

Therapeutic mouthwash is available over the counter and by prescription. This type has active ingredients that can help control plaque, gum disease and tooth decay. Even if you do not have mouthwash, you can rinse out your mouth with a glass of water after every meal. This is the easiest way to give your teeth a quick cleaning.


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