Cavities and tooth decay are a problem that affects adults and children. Your teeth are made of a hard substance called enamel, and inside of the enamel is a softer layer, and then a ‘root’ with nerve endings.
Bacteria live in your mouth and will grow on your teeth, forming a soft plaque. That plaque can eventually go hard and form a layer of tartar. While the plaque is soft, however, and the bacteria are alive, they will feed on sugar in the food that you eat, and the byproduct of the sugar digestion creates an acid which will eat away at the enamel of your teeth, forming cavities.
Brushing your teeth will clean away the plaque, and will also help to neutralize the acid, protecting your teeth. However, if you brush too hard it can damage the enamel. Some teeth whitening products may also damage the enamel, and drinking fizzy drinks that are acidic can do damage too.
You can protect your teeth from decay by brushing and flossing regularly. You should brush your teeth before bed, in the morning, and ideally after meals as well. You should floss when you brush your teeth, and consider using a mouthwash to protect your teeth as well.
Some local authorities add fluoride to drinking water. Fluoride can help to protect against tooth decay and cavities. You can also get toothpaste that is enriched with fluoride.
Why Worry About Cavities?
Cavities can lead to a toothache, which is incredibly painful. It can also lead to abscesses and to other infections, which can be incredibly serious and that may require the tooth to be extracted. Small cavities can often be treated with fillings. Some dentists recommend fissure sealants to cover small natural ‘cracks’ or hard to clean areas of teeth, to prevent decay.
If you have braces then it is particularly important that you take good care of your teeth, because the braces can create areas where bits of food and debris gather, which can make tooth decay a more serious and likely issue.
Children and adults can both suffer from cavities. It is more serious in adults because if a child has tooth decay in their milk teeth then while this is a serious warning sign that they need to take better care of their teeth, they are fortunate in that they will have a second set of adult teeth. If the adult teeth become damaged, then there are no more teeth to replace them, and implants or dentures can be expensive and are not as comfortable as real teeth.
Brushing your teeth prevents tooth decay and can also help to protect the health of your gums. Receding gums and gingivitis are other health problems that should be taken seriously because they can lead to the weakening of the roots of your teeth, and bone loss in the jaw. If your jaw is weakened to the point that it cannot accommodate implants, then as you head into old age your dental health may become a serious concern. Make sure to prevent gum diseases and tooth decay by visiting your Family Dentist regularly.