Tooth decay also known as cavity occurs when the structure of the tooth is destroyed. A damage to the tooth enamel can result to tooth decay. Although the tooth enamel is among the hardest things that is found in the human body, but there are number of things that can soften the enamel, leading to damages on the teeth structure. Speaking of those things that can soften the enamel, acids produced from the activities of bacteria in the mouth can easily destroy the tooth structure.
This acids gradually erode the tooth enamel, ripping off minerals from the tooth and also wearing away the protective layers of the tooth. If left untreated, tiny holes will start to develop on the tooth enamel and they will grow larger overtime leading to loss of the entire tooth.
The problem of tooth decay is very common, anybody can have it. Adults, children and even babies, there are no exceptions. Good oral hygiene can be a great line of protection against tooth decay for you and your family. You should encourage your children to always practice good oral hygiene. If you don’t know how, your dentist can be of a great help in telling you what to do. Decay most often occurs at the back teeth – molars and premolars, because they are harder to keep clean. So, always ensure that you reach out properly to the back teeth when brushing and flossing.
On this article am going to reveal to you those things that can cause tooth decay. Some medical problems can show up in your mouth leading to one dental problem or the other. We are also going to look at the possible health problems that can cause tooth decay.
Before I start listing the things that can cause tooth decay, I would like you to know the signs of tooth decay. As we all know, every body is not the same. At the initial stage of tooth decay, you might not even notice any sign of discomfort or pain. It’s possible that you might not experience any of these signs, this depends on how severe the damage is and also the location.
Symptoms of tooth decay
If you tooth is decaying you might have any of these :
- Pain and teeth sensitivity when bitting down on food. You might feel pain when you take something cold, sweet or hot.
- Toothache : this comes as sharp continues pain, toothaches without any apparent cause.
- Bad Breath : you might start to notice strong unpleasant odor coming from your mouth.
- Tiny visible holes on the tooth
- Brown, grey or black spots on the surface of the tooth
- Pus around the tooth
Causes Of Tooth Decay
- Plaque accumulation : not brushing or flossing your teeth daily allows plaque to build up on your teeth. This dental plaque are from sticky food particles that sticks to the teeth. Not cleaning your teeth properly after eating sugarly or starchy foods makes plaque to form and build up easily. Sugarly foods attracts lots of bacteria to the mouth, when they are not cleaned off properly, bacteria starts to feed on them forming plaque. The plaque adhere to the teeth and builds up over time, providing shield to bacteria. The acids produced from the plaque eventually starts to attack the tooth enamel, forming holes on the enamel.
- Dry mouth : people with dry mouth are at higher risk of developing cavities. Naturally the saliva in the mouth helps to keep the mouth clean. The saliva clears away food particles from the mouth, preventing plaque from building up. It also contains natural antibacterial compounds that keeps bacteria away. When you produce little saliva, plaque may build up.
- Acidic foods and drinks : taking foods and drinks daily is necessary for us to live. But some of this foods and drinks helps in the formation of teeth cavities. Just like I said earlier, foods that tend to cling to your teeth can increase your risk of developing tooth cavity. Other foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits and kiwis contains acids that wears down the protective layer of the teeth. Acidic foods and drinks are good when taken in the right proportion. Too much can lead to serious dental problems.
- Lack of flouride : in my previous post, I tried to explain the benefits of fluoride to the teeth. Flouride is a natural mineral that protects the teeth against damage and disease. It has lots of health benefits and so many manufacturers are taking advantage of this, it’s now among the most important ingredient used in mouthwash and toothpastes. Recently, flouride is now being added to public water supply. This is to show you how important flouride is, when you don’t get enough flouride, you can easily develop tooth cavity.
- Age : there is no particular age when the risk of having tooth decay is high. But according to a study it was shown that younger children and older adults develop tooth decay more often. The study showed that dried fruit, dry cereal, hard candy, caramel, taffy, raisins, sugary cereals, cookies, milk, formula and juice leads to cavities in younger children. Similar damage also occur in older adults when they take such foods, but adults are at higher risk. As years goes by, gums recession is common, the teeth enamel tend to wear down, making older adults more vulnerable to tooth decay.
Diseases That Cause Tooth Decay
- Oral Cancer : one of the symptoms of oral cancer is tooth decay. In dentistry, your dentist plays an important role in early detection of oral problems such as this. If oral cancer is the reason why your tooth is decaying, your dentist can recommend suitable treatment for you.
- Eating Disorder (anorexia and bulimia : eating disorder plays a significant role in the formation of cavity. This two health problems – anorexia and bulimia are serious eating disorders. They are common among people that are extremely afraid of becoming overweight. They tend to eat things that don’t provide all the necessary nutrients and minerals required for general maintenance of their mouth. Frequent vomiting makes the stomach acids to always come in contact with the teeth. The acids from the stomach wears down the teeth enamel, giving room to certain dental problems like teeth sensitivity, swollen glands and cavity.
- Diabetes : according to studies, those with diabetes have a higher risk of developing gum disease and oral infections. Diabetes raises the blood sugar level, after some period of time it results to premature degeneration of eyes, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels. It does no good to your oral health and it’s also important that you should let your dentist know if you are diabetic. Your dentist should know the right course of action to take.
- Temoromandibular disorder (TMD) : this is a medical condition that interferes with how the jaw joints and jaw muscles work. A person that has TMD might find it hard to chew, swallow or speak. You might experience pain at your jaw when you wake up every morning, or when you speak or eat. With temporomandibular disorder, you may hear strange clicking or grinding noise in your jaw joints, when you open your mouth or chew. TMD can lead to serious dental problems and even teeth grinding (bruxism). Other diseases that can also cause tooth decay includes –
How to prevent tooth decay
Establish a healthy eating habit, sticky foods that easily get stuck in your teeth, such as chips, candies, chocolate or cookies can aggravate tooth decay. You will need to cut down on foods that brings plaque and bacteria to the teeth. Always brush your teeth after taking sugary foods, to prevent the formation of plaque. One more thing, don’t give your children sugarly foods or drinks before they go to bed, sugar-free alternatives is just fine.
Also ensure that you eat foods that are essential for maintaining a healthy gum and teeth. Regular visits to your dentist for regular oral examinations and cleaning can help to detect oral problems at their early stage. Fluoridated products (mouthwash or toothpaste) can help protect against plaque and gingivitis.
Finally, practicing good oral hygiene can be the best line of protection against tooth decay. It’s recommended that you should brush twice daily, but you shouldn’t let this limit your brushing. You can brush anytime of the day, mostly after meal. Flossing regularly is also very important. It helps to prevent bacteria buildups by removing food particles from your teeth and also creates harsh environment where harmful bacteria cannot survive.
- References – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cavities/symptoms-causes/syc-20352892