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Check us out on YouTube as we talk teeth #watchyourmouthSpanish

What Is Tooth Decay and How Can You Prevent It?

Dentist talking to a patient

Most people deal with at least one cavity by the time they reach adulthood. Typically, cavities are easily treated and quickly forgotten about.

However, if you don’t take the proper precautions, more cavities will likely form, and some of them might become more significant problems than a simple filling can solve.

What exactly causes tooth decay, and what can you do to prevent it from happening to your teeth? We answer those questions and more in this quick and easy guide.

What Is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria-caused acids in your mouth wear away at the protective surface layer of your teeth (known as enamel), resulting in cavities or holes in the teeth. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain, sensitivity, tooth infection, and possibly even tooth loss.

The Causes of Tooth Decay

The idea of tooth-destroying bacteria in your mouth may make you want to run and brush your teeth immediately, but the truth is that there is no way to eliminate all of the bacteria in your mouth. You actually wouldn’t want to do that (even if you could) because some bacteria in the mouth is a good thing.

However, you can keep the bacteria in your mouth to a minimum with a good oral hygiene routine, and you can reduce tooth damage by avoiding sugars and starches in your diets.

Otherwise, bacteria combine with the food that remains in your mouth after eating to create plaque. Then sugars and starches interact with plaque bacteria to produce the acids that wear away enamel and lead to cavities. That’s the leading cause of tooth decay, and for the most part, it’s highly preventable.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay

If you want to stop tooth decay before it ever even occurs, then take a look at the following tips.

Brush and Floss Every Day

To prevent plaque from developing in your mouth, you need to remove the leftover food particles hanging around it. Every time you eat, some of that food sticks in your teeth, and just brushing twice a day and flossing once a day can get it out. Stick to this daily oral hygiene routine, and you’re far less likely to end up with any cavities.

Visit Your Dentist Twice a Year

While brushing twice and flossing once every day can really help you keep your mouth free of food particles and plaque, it’s still crucial that you go to your dentist for regular cleanings to ensure that the hard-to-reach spots don’t go neglected.

Your dentist has specialized tools to give your teeth a deep cleaning that your toothbrush and tooth floss simply can’t provide.

Avoid Sugars and Starches

The bacteria in your mouth turn sugars and starch into acids that cause tooth decay, so it follows that keeping sugars and starches out of your diet will stop tooth decay from ever happening. However, it’d be very difficult to enforce that type of strict diet for an extended period of time.

Moderation is essential, and brushing thoroughly after eating anything containing them is also vital.

Eat Plenty of Fiber

A high fiber diet is good for you for several reasons, and one of the best among them is the plant-derived food’s teeth-cleaning properties. Yes, fibrous foods can actually help keep your mouth and gums clean, which means a lower chance of tooth decay.

Grab some fruits and veggies high in fiber and snack on them instead of those high sugar or starchy snacks. Remember that fruit also has sugar, so make sure to brush after eating.

Rinse Your Mouth After Eating

A good way to keep tooth decay threats from lingering in your mouth too long is to have a quick rinse with water after you eat anything sugary. You may even want to consider carrying a fluoride mouth rinse along with you to up the level of protection.

Preventative Treatments

You can also opt for fluoride treatments for extra protection against tooth decay. Fluoride binds with your tooth enamel to make it stronger, and it also fights the bacteria in your mouth that can cause tooth decay.

A fluoride treatment is when your dentist applies a highly concentrated fluoride solution to your teeth so you can reap the anti-tooth decay rewards that the chemical compound has to offer.

Prevent Tooth Decay

The best way to prevent tooth decay is by attending regular dental appointments. Call Dr. Brett Langston and the team at Dental Implant and Aesthetic Specialists of Atlanta today or request an appointment online.