Talking to your dentist is one of the most important steps you can take towards better oral health. Almost as important, however, is educating yourself about timely dental topics. This includes knowing a little about the five stages of tooth decay.
How Tooth Decay Works
Your mouth is filled with bacteria, both the helpful and not-so-helpful kind. Problems start when the bad germs get a foothold on your teeth and start causing trouble. Here’s how the process works:
- Harmful bacteria begin to multiply in your mouth. Many factors can cause this, including a diet high in sugary and starchy foods.
- This bacteria lodges itself onto your teeth. It then begins to secrete corrosive acids that dissolve your teeth’s protective enamel.
- The bacteria infects the tooth’s dentin. This material forms the soft inner region of your teeth. It’s usually at this point that toothaches begin.
- The infection spreads into the pulp. This is the gel-like material at the center of each tooth. By this point, the person is usually in considerable pain.
- The bacteria invades the jaw. This can cause bone erosion and even facial disfigurement. Some experts believe that the bacteria then enters your bloodstream, causing problems throughout the body that may lead to heart attacks or stroke.
The key to stopping tooth decay is effective prevention.
Halting Tooth Decay in Its Tracks
There’s no way to permanently remove all the harmful bacteria from your mouth. So you must take steps to minimize its effects on your teeth and gums. These include:
- Brushing at least twice a day. You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste containing fluoride. You’ll find both manual and electric models on the market.
- Flossing at least once daily. Floss brands vary in terms of thickness as well as features such as waxed or flavored coatings. Try several kinds until you find the one that works best for you. You can also ask your dentist for specific recommendations. It’s important to floss using a site-to-side motion rather than going up and down, which can irritate your gums.
- Using a name-brand mouthwash or dental rinse. Not only can this remove added plaque, it may kill harmful bacteria in your mouth.
- Eating a well-rounded diet. Teeth need calcium and minerals to stay strong. Some nutritionists believe that probiotic supplements can help keep harmful bacteria under control in your mouth.
- Seeing your dentist at least twice a year. Regular cleanings and checkups are essential for enjoying long-term oral health.
- Staying away from tobacco products of all kinds. Cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and snuff can all have disastrous effects, but only on your teeth and gums but throughout your entire body. So-called “e-cigarettes” or vaping products also present significant risks to your health.
Your dental office will do all it can to keep your teeth and gums healthy. But it’s up to you to help them. Start by following the tips in this post. Effective oral health takes a lifetime commitment. But the rewards are well worth the effort.
About Our Practice
Monarch Dentistry is staffed by skilled experts who give top priority to their patient’s health. The office is comfortable and conveniently located. You can find more information online or by calling (703) 714-7374.