Avoiding Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is responsible for much pain and discomfort in the mouth. The side effects of tooth decay can be smelly breath and pain when eating, but as we know now, dental problems can have far-reaching consequences for the body as a whole. This is why dental experts are always campaigning for good oral hygiene, especially for taking good care of your teeth. Despite all our medical advances, there is still nothing that is quite as good as your own natural teeth, so preserving them should be a priority for everyone.

So what exactly causes tooth decay?

The tooth has three main parts: the enamel, the dentin, and the pulp. The enamel is the outer and the hardest part of the teeth. The dentin is the second and porous layer of the teeth. It contains small channels called the dentinal tubules. The innermost layer is called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels and the nerves that nourish the tooth.

When you eat, food is broken down in the oral cavity by the body’s own enzymes and bacteria. This creates a sticky layer on all surfaces in the mouth called dental plaque. This layer of dental plaque contains food residue and bacteria. Tooth decay can begin when bad bacteria manage to damage the tooth enamel. When bacteria metabolize food particles, especially starches and sugars, acids are created. These acids damage the enamel and create tiny defects which allow the acid to penetrate further into the tooth. Once the enamel is damaged, the bacteria can penetrate into the dentin layer. The tiny pores or dentinal tubules allow the bacteria to penetrate more and more into the tooth, destroying dentin as they metabolize. Since the dentinal tubes are directly connected to the nerves in the pulp, this may cause the pain associated with a toothache.

By considering what tooth decay does to your oral cavity, a good tooth is defined as one that you have grown with but is still intact without dental caries and fillings.

So what can you do to avoid tooth decay? Here are some tips:

 Brush frequently and well. Believe it or not, there is such thing as “proper brushing”. This constitutes the act of brushing all sides of the teeth, top bottom, back and front to remove dental plaque.

Use plaque-disclosing tablets. These tablets help you identify areas where of the teeth where plaque is particularly stubborn and may even show you where old plaque deposits are.

Clean between your teeth. When you brush all sides of your teeth, do not forget to clean between your teeth. These areas are particularly susceptible to the actions of bad bacteria and this is where tooth decay usually starts.

Use natural toothpaste. Natural toothpaste does not contain potentially harmful chemicals and soaps such as sls or alcohol – all substances that are harmful to gum health. It is good practice to use an antiseptic toothpaste from time to time to disrupt the bad bacteria in the oral cavity. Also, be sure to choose a toothpaste that contains Xylitol; this substance has been shown to stop and reverse the effects of dental caries.

Watch your Diet. Studies have shown that the tooth can in fact heal itself under certain circumstances. Foods rich in Vitamin D and Calcium support tooth regeneration, while sugary foods tend to favor the bad bacteria that cause tooth decay. Also, certain substances found in healthy chewing gums like Xylitol can help to protect tooth enamel from the attacks of bacteria. Over time a good diet can help to stop and reverse tooth decay and ensure that you keep your teeth for a lifetime.