Tooth Decay: The Most Common Causes

Posted on: October 29, 2017

There are many dental issues that can lead to serious trouble. However, none are quite as common as tooth decay. Often, people find themselves with decay, and that decay turns into a problem that requires a medical procedure. Learn what causes decay and how you can prevent it.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is the term used to describe damage to your teeth. However, it is a very specific type of damage. It occurs when acid in your mouth eats away at your tooth. The acid comes from the bacteria in your mouth. When you have too much bacteria, you have too much acid. As it eats away at your tooth, it does damage. If that damage goes untreated, a hole can form.Many people believe that tooth decay and a cavity are the same things. However, there is a slight difference. Decay can occur before a cavity forms. After time, it progresses into a cavity. The cavity refers to the hole in your tooth.If you have tooth decay, you might experience tooth pain. As the decay progresses, you may experience more pain. It could progress to the point that an infection develops. In fact, it could get so bad that you lose your tooth.

Understanding the process

Before you can understand the causes of decay, you need to understand the way it occurs. The outer layer of your teeth is the enamel. At first, acid eats away at the enamel. With the sole purpose of protection, enamel can take a certain amount of damage. However, when it gets too much damage, it gives way to the middle of your tooth. This part is known as the dentin. When you have too much bacteria in your mouth, the enamel could eat through the dentin. Then, that leaves the pulp of the tooth exposed. The pulp contains nerves and blood vessels. If decay leaves your pulp exposed, you could experience pain and develop an infection.

Causes of Tooth Decay

While you might already know that bacteria in your mouth causes tooth decay, there is more to it than that. Everyone has some bacteria in their mouth. However, not everyone has tooth decay. This is because there are certain ways to limit the bacteria in your mouth. Some habits allow the bacteria to flourish. If you know the common causes of decay, you can learn how to prevent it. Here are some of the most common causes of decay:

1. Not brushing or flossing regularly

When you brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, you can prevent bacteria from collecting on your teeth. In turn, this prevents the production of acid. People who fail to brush and floss regularly build up too much bacteria. As a result, they are more prone to decay.

2. Skipping regular dental visits

There are reasons that dentists recommend regular checkups. Although there are many reasons, one of them is to prevent decay. When you visit your dentist, he gives you a cleaning. This removes any bacteria that collected in hard-to-reach areas. Additionally, he may notice some areas that have some slight decay. If he notices it early enough, he may be able to reverse the decay process and build up your enamel.

3. Eating too many sugary foods

Bacteria thrive off of sugar. When they thrive, they produce more acid and cause more decay. If you limit your sugar intake, you can prevent decay. Avoid foods that have high sugar content, and brush your teeth after eating sugary foods. You can limit decay and have healthier teeth. As an added bonus, less sugar means a healthier lifestyle.

4. Too little fluoride

Fluoride makes your teeth less prone to decay. It makes your teeth less vulnerable to acid. However, you need to make an effort to get enough fluoride. Although it is found in most public water, some people don’t drink public water. In that case, you may need to supplement with fluoride. When you go to the dentist, he can apply fluoride to your teeth to strengthen the enamel.

5. Dry mouth

When you have enough saliva in your mouth, you can limit decay. Saliva pushes out the food and sugar in your mouth that would otherwise feed bacteria. For the bacteria, this is bad news. They won’t produce as much acid, and you can protect your teeth.Some people suffer from dry mouth because they have certain conditions. If you take certain medicines, dry mouth could be a side effect. There are also medical conditions, like xerostomia, which cause dry mouth.Avoiding all the common habits that cause tooth decay can save you from trouble. By practicing good oral hygiene, you can prevent pain and discomfort. You may even be able to avoid needing a root canal. If you don’t wait until the decay gets too bad, you might be able to save your teeth.