Tooth Decay: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

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Tooth decay, or cavities, is among the most common oral health problems in the world. They are particularly common in small children and older adults, but anyone who has teeth is susceptible to getting cavities or battling tooth decay.

Tooth decay is the destruction of the tooth structure. It can affect the enamel – the outer coating on the tooth, and dentin – the dense, bony tissue below the enamel.  Dentin makes up the bulk of the tooth, so if that area becomes affected, it is much harder to treat.

Although preventable, tooth decay happens because of plaque buildup.  Food that contain carbohydrates –  bread, cereal, milk, candy, soda, or fruits – leave residue in your mouth after eating. The bacteria in your mouth reacts with that residue and turns to acid. This acid, along with bacteria, food debris, and saliva, create plaque. The acids in plaque eat away at the tooth’s enamel, creating holes in the teeth called cavities.

Causes of Tooth Decay

There are many causes for tooth decay, but fortunately, many of them are preventable. Main causes of tooth decay are sticky, sugary foods and drinks. Sugar produces more acid, which leads to decay. Plaque combined, with sugar, weakens the enamel on your teeth, making them more likely to suffer from decay.There are other causes of tooth decay to be aware of:

Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Decay

Depending on the severity and location of the tooth decay, the symptoms and signs can vary. However, during the very early stages of cavity and tooth decay, there may not be symptoms at all. As the decay gets larger, some of symptoms and signs may be visible, such as:

Because it is not always apparent when there is a cavity forming, it’s important to have regular dentist checks and cleanings. If you experience pain, see a dentist as soon as possible.

Prevention Tips

Practicing good oral and dental hygiene can help prevent tooth decay and the formation of cavities. Always consult with your dentist, but some options are:

Visiting your dentist is the best way to prevent tooth decay and cavities from forming in your mouth. Being aware of your diet, brushing more frequently, and knowing how cavities are formed are the best ways to actively prevent oral conditions. Call your dentist today to schedule an appointment.

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