Tooth decay (cavities) is the damage to a tooth caused by the buildup of dental plaque in the mouth, which turns sugars into acid that attacks the teeth. Our mouths are full of bacteria – some good, some bad. The harmful bacteria plays a part in the tooth decay process, promoting the production of acids that eat away at the tooth enamel.
In order to combat these acids, we have minerals in our saliva (such as phosphate and calcium), as well as fluoride products. The mouth constantly goes through a cycle of losing and regaining minerals, but when we lose too much, we get cavities. The question is: is tooth decay permanent?
How do cavities develop?
When the teeth are regularly exposed to acid, the enamel starts to lose minerals. White spots might appear where the minerals were lost – this is an early sign of decay.
For most people, the saliva we generate and the fluoride found in toothpaste and water helps to replace minerals. However, people that snack regularly are exposing their teeth to too much acid which causes demineralisation, followed by enamel decay and then decay of the dentin (the soft tissue underneath the enamel). The final stage is pulp decay, and a painful abscess may develop if the bacteria spreads below the pulp.
Treatments for early stage tooth decay
The good news is that, when caught early on during the demineralisation stage, tooth decay is usually reversible. At this point, good oral hygiene is imperative to getting your teeth’s health back on track. In order to restore the minerals and halt or reverse decay, you should be brushing and flossing regularly, and frequently exposing your teeth to fluoride to help make them strong again.
Remember that tooth decay is only reversible when caught in the early stages. Once decay reaches the dentine level, this is irreversible and your dentist will explore treatment options such as fillings, crowns, root canals and extractions with you.
Prevention is better than cure
You can’t guarantee you’ll never get cavities, but you can significantly reduce the chances with good oral hygiene practices. The following is essential to prevent the onset of decay:
- Brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss your teeth every day to prevent the buildup of plaque between the teeth
- Drink fluoride water to increase your exposure to fluoride
- Ask your dentist about other fluoride products
- Reduce the amount of sugary foods you consume
- Brush your teeth after eating a meal or a sugary snack
- See your dentist every 6 months for a thorough check-up and clean
Call or email our dental practice
Staying on top of your oral hygiene is the best measure to keep your teeth healthy and keep cavities at bay. Contact King Street Dental if you have any questions related to your own oral health, or book an appointment. We’re welcoming both new and existing patients, and you can reach us on (03) 9841 8033 or [email protected].
You already know how important vitamins and minerals are to keep your body working properly and boost your immune system, but did you know that certain vitamins and minerals also have a positive effect on your oral health? Those powerful little nutrients found in food and in the packaged vitamins you take can also strengthen your teeth and help you build a smile to be proud of.
The process of chewing itself is important for extracting maximum goodness from the food you eat, and a lack of vitamins and minerals has been related to tooth loss and gum inflammation. A healthy diet should complement good oral hygiene, so be sure to brush twice a day and to book an appointment at King Street Dental every 6 months.
We’re told about the importance of calcium for strong, healthy bones and teeth from a young age. Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the human body, with 99% found in our bones and teeth. You can get a good dose of calcium from milk, cheese, soy-based products and green veggies. Along with strengthening tooth enamel, it keeps the jawbones strong and healthy.
Phosphorous protects and rebuilds tooth enamel, and is important for helping the body absorb calcium. It’s mostly found in meat, milk, whole grains, fish, lentils, eggs and other high-protein foods.
Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to a number of oral health disorders such as cavities, inflammation and gum disease. The vitamin keeps your teeth healthy by playing a key role in bone and tooth mineralisation, by helping the body to absorb, carry and deposit calcium in the bones. You can get a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sun (just remember to use sunscreen), as well as in oily fish, milk, breakfast cereals, soy and dairy products.
Vitamin C is essential for healthy teeth and gums, caring for the connective tissues that keep everything in place. Deficiencies in Vitamin C can lead to bleeding gums, gum disease and tooth erosion. Most people get plenty of Vitamin C in their diet, as it’s found in citrus fruits, vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, and white and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin A is a good one for your eyes and skin, as well as your oral health. It helps your body take in calcium and protein, and helps to stimulate saliva production which keeps bacteria at bay and promotes faster healing. You’ll find it mostly in orange-coloured foods (carrots, oranges, pumpkin, etc.), fish, egg yolks and green vegetables.
Potassium is a mineral that works in a similar way to Vitamin D, in that it helps to boost bone density and keeps them strong. You can get your potassium fix in bananas, tomatoes, lima beans and avocados.
Visit us to promote better oral health
Keep your oral health at its best with regular visits to King Street Dental in Templestowe. We can provide a general check-up and clean, and advice tailored to your smile. Give us a call on (03) 9841 8033 or email [email protected] to get booked in.