When I was growing up, my parents would insist, “brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly.” But I never asked why. Today, I understand the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene. At some point, I had to contend with a toothache and I never wish to experience such pain again. Yes, the dentist helped to finally alleviate the pain, which was a wonderful thing. But, whilst I laud the work of people at clinics like svdc.com.au, I would prefer to not go through that again. Allow me to share vital information on the two most common dental issues and how to keep them at bay.
Tooth decay is an infectious oral disease, caused by certain bacteria that feed on sugars and secrete acids. Eventually, these acids wipe out the enamel, hence creating a cavity. Our mouths harbor hundreds of bacteria, some of which are beneficial. However, particular strains are harmful and responsible for the tooth decay process. When we take oral health for granted, we leave saliva and fluoride at the mercy of bacteria and sugars. A mixture of food debris and acids that have been deposited by bacteria is known as plaque, a sticky and colorless film. Saliva and good minerals from water and toothpaste help to maintain the integrity of a tooth. Contrarily, the plaque attacks the outer surface or the enamel. So, every day, there is a tug of war between restorative minerals in saliva and destructive bacteria. Minerals are constantly being lost and regained.
Too much exposure to acids is the main cause of tooth decay. Repeated cycles of attack chip off the enamel and a white spot can form to signify early decay. The good news is that this process can be reversed through enamel repair. Alternatively, we can restore our enamels with proper diets and the use of fluoride toothpaste. Otherwise, when too many minerals are lost, the enamel weakens and forms a cavity. This is permanent damage that requires immediate repair with a filling. If we leave it untreated, it goes on to destroy the next tooth. It gets worse when roots are exposed, and the gum starts to suffer recession.
While there are no fail-safe methods to stop tooth decay and cavities, the following practices can reverse their effects and stop cavities from growing deeper.
Regular brushing and flossing are good. But what we eat is more critical to oral hygiene. We should consider teeth-friendly foods e.g. citrus fruits, carrots, fresh vegetables, and fish. Chewing sugar-free treats helps to maintain saliva in our mouth which is needed to flush out the plaque. Let’s avoid sugary cereals, soft drinks, cakes, and chocolates. Sweetened beverages expose our mouths to lesions and dental caries.
Fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash are highly recommended to prevent tooth decay and dental fluorosis. We don’t need to wash immediately after meals. Brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste aims at restoring the enamel hence reversing the early stages of tooth decay. Often, we rinse our mouths after meals with plain water. We could try a better regimen using fluoride mouthwash and allow it to settle before taking another meal or drinking some fluids.
It is never too late to save eroded enamel. This is where dental sealants come to the rescue. A predisposed tooth can cause throbbing pain and it requires a qualified dentist to shield it from external elements. Dental sealing entails coating the exposed tooth with a thin film of plastic or other materials. It is especially done to premolars and molars.
Chewing and smoking tobacco-based products predispose our teeth to decay and periodontal diseases. Tobacco is notorious for creating plaque and tartar which interferes with the distribution of saliva throughout the mouth. Cigarettes can irritate our gums and denature them around our teeth. The point of weakness is where bacteria find their way into connective tissues. Moreover, smoking compromises the immune system so the body struggles to fight gum infections.
Most cavities start small and take a while to develop. We must not delay treatment because these problems don’t just disappear. Regular dental exams and teeth cleaning are fundamental to reversing tooth decay.