ADULT TOOTH DECAY
Cavities don’t just happen to kids. We all hate to hear we have a new cavity when we visit the dentist, but with the help of a dentist, your mouth can be restored back to health.
Tooth decay is caused when the bad bacteria in the mouth overcome your tooth’s natural defenses.
A healthy mouth contains natural, good bacteria that neutralize acids and help clean up food particles. This bacteria and your saliva also help strengthen teeth by bathing your teeth with minerals that protect teeth from decay.
Sometimes bad bacteria (contained within plaque and tartar) can throw a healthy mouth into chaos. Plaque is a sticky substance that can build up on your teeth. It is composed of mucus, residual food particles, and bad bacteria. The bad bacteria in the plaque eat sugars in the mouth and excrete acid, which can eat into the tooth, causing cavities. If the cavities continue to grow larger, they can cause pain. Often a cavity that grows to affect the dentin must undergo a root canal or extraction. In short, tooth decay can kill teeth. It is best to have cavities removed when they are small before they cause a problem.
To prevent tooth decay, see your dentist twice each year for a thorough cleaning and oral exam. At home, brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush after each meal. Floss daily. Flossing is even more important than brushing! Mouthwash and fluoride rinses can help kill harmful bacteria, which can help keep both the gums and the teeth healthy. Avoiding foods high in sugars and starches will also help prevent decay. Professional fluoride treatments and dental sealants can help deter tooth decay. Some patients naturally build up plaque and tartar faster than others. These patients may need more frequent cleanings than every six months. Your dentist and dental hygienist can help you understand what is happening in your mouth and recommend ways to help prevent tooth decay.