How To Prevent Tooth Decay

How To Prevent Tooth Decay
Posted on 03/18/2020
Tooth decay is the second most common health problem in the United States. Typically, children and young adults are most susceptible to it, but anyone can experience tooth decay. To protect your teeth, the experts at Gentle Smiles of Colorado share how it develops, the treatments, and prevention. 

How Tooth Decay Develops

The main culprits of tooth decay are bacteria and food, which can cause cavities. The mouth contains many different types of both good and bad bacteria. The bacteria that causes plaque feeds on the sugar found in food and drinks, and then produces acid. The acid is what leads to bacterial plaque, which is a sticky substance that forms on the teeth and gums. If the plaque is not removed while it is still soft, it will harden.

The acids in plaque eat away at the minerals in tooth enamel, which is the protective layer of teeth. The erosion of the enamel creates holes or openings in the enamel, which then starts the formation of a cavity. The acid will then begin to erode the next layer of your teeth, which is called the dentin.

If the cavity goes untreated, the acid will continue deeper into the structure of the tooth, including the pulp, nerves, and blood vessels. As the decay progresses, it will result in a bacterial infection that causes a tooth abscess. 

Symptoms of Tooth Decay

When a cavity starts to develop, you may not feel any symptoms, but as it worsens, you may experience:

  • Sensitivity
  • Toothache pain
  • Pain when you bite down
  • Pain when eating or drinking things that are sweet, hot or cold
  • Holes or pits that are visible in the teeth
  • Black, brown or white stains on the tooth surface

Causes of Tooth Decay

Several things put you at risk for tooth decay:

  • Eating foods high in carbohydrates and sugar, which feeds the harmful bacteria in your mouth.
  • Not brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Not seeing a dentist every six months for cleaning and checkups.
  • Having a dry mouth without enough saliva to wash away the food and sugars.

Treatment for Tooth Decay

The treatment for tooth decay will depend on how far advanced the cavity is. There are several ways it can be treated:

Fillings

Your dentist will first remove the decayed part of the tooth using a drill, and will then put a filling in place. Fillings can be made from gold, silver alloy, composite resin, or porcelain. Today, porcelain or composite resin fillings are used most often because they match the natural color of the tooth. 

Crown

If you have a very large cavity, it weakens the structure of the tooth. Instead of a filling, your dentist will most likely recommend restoration with a dental crown. After removing the decay, a gold or porcelain crown will be placed over the tooth to restore the structure of your tooth.

Root Canal

If your cavity is not treated, it can result in nerve damage, which will require a root canal. Both the pulp and decaying center of the tooth will be removed, and then your dentist will seal the tooth and place a crown on the tooth to strengthen its structure. 

Tooth Decay Prevention

The experts at Gentle Smiles of Colorado shares these tips on how to prevent tooth decay:

You should brush your teeth at least twice per day using fluoride toothpaste. In addition to brushing, you should also floss your teeth daily, ideally before going to bed. If you eat or drink something with high amounts of sugar, you should wait at least 30 minutes to brush your teeth because, during that time, you will be brushing the acid from the sugar all over your teeth.

Get a dental sealant to protect your teeth. Sealants are a plastic coating that protects your teeth where food and bacteria tend to collect. The sealants are applied to your back teeth and will last up to ten years. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all school-age children get sealants to protect their teeth.

Visit your dentist twice per year for cleaning and an exam to help prevent decay, as well as finding problems early. If you are at high-risk for tooth decay, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings.

Limit the amount of sugary food and drinks you consume to keep acid at bay, as well as avoiding foods that get stuck in your teeth. Food that gets stuck in your teeth for long periods will promote tooth decay.

Talk to your dentist about antibacterial mouth rinses if you are at a higher risk of tooth decay.

Schedule an Appointment with Gentle Smiles of Colorado!

As your Golden, Wheat Ridge, and Denver, Colorado Dentist, we are committed to helping you maintain excellent oral health. Our team will be happy to answer any questions you have about tooth decay.

If you are looking for a highly regarded dentist in Golden, Wheat Ridge, or Denver, Colorado, contact us to make an appointment at one of our three locations. We look forward to helping you keep a healthy smile.

Dr. Timothy Wachuta

  • Denver Office - 2709 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO 80222 Phone: (303) 756-2770 Fax: (303) 758-5705
  • Golden Office - 2305 Jackson St., Golden, CO 80401 Phone: (303) 278-2800 Fax: (303) 278-8448
  • Wheat Ridge Office - 8850 W. 38th Ave., Suite D, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033 Phone: (303) 425-5100

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