Tooth decay is usually known for its symptoms; terrible toothache, blackening of the tooth, the crumbling of tooth structures, gaping holes in the enamel and foul breath to top it all off. But what is tooth decay? Many people have some vague idea, that bacteria causes it, but how, why and what can be done to prevent it are frequently very misinformed. Here below I will present a blow by blow of what tooth decay is, what it isn’t, how it works, and how it can be stopped.
Causes of tooth decay
The human oral cavity is a haven for different kinds of bacteria. Some are benign and help break down enzymes into digestible fragments, some are quickly destroyed by the immune system, and some are left to proliferate, and are only curtailed if there is too much of them.
The bacteria in your mouth that eat carbohydrates produce acidic by products. They proliferate rapidly when refined sugars and processed carbs are eaten, and their acidic by products, their excrement, essentially, will cause your tooth enamel to weaken. If enough of your tooth enamel has been dissolved by these acidic by products, your enamel will cave in, and a hole will appear. This hole will get bigger and bigger as more and more of your tooth is demineralized over time. This is what tooth decay is.
Signs and symptoms
Before there is a gaping black hole and unbearable pain in your tooth, there are several stages that the tooth goes through. First of all, check your teeth regularly for small caries, or tiny black or brown spots, as these are places where there is a deposit of enamel killing acid. Make sure to be extra circumspect when checking teeth that are often covered in food detritus after eating, like the molars and the canines. Also look for any plaque on any teeth and remove it immediately. Plaque is basically a hardened form of biofilm, which bacteria generate and live in. This plaque is full of the compounds that make teeth go bad.
How to prevent tooth decay
The prevention of tooth decay can be broken down into two categories. One is what you can do at home and in your life to minimize the risk of tooth decay, and two is a question of half year check ups. There are certain facets of cleaning your teeth that you cannot do at home, but a dentist can do for you.
Make sure you brush your teeth three times a day, and after every meal, as well. After you eat is when the bacteria in your mouth start to break down the carbs they get, this is when they do the most damage. The least you can do is rinse thoroughly and spit out the sputum, thus removing bacterial colonies, biofilm and acidic by products from your tooth surfaces. Make sure you floss, or otherwise the crevices between your teeth will become infected and your teeth will decay there. Use mouthwash to rinse through your entire oral cavity, and to make sure that the cleaning power reaches every single surface, even ones which only a liquid could. Besides this, avoid smoking or drinking alcohol, and try to eat less sugar and less acidic foods.