Many factors are responsible for tooth decay. Also known as cavities or caries, tooth decay is holes, openings, or crevices in the tooth’s surface. Tooth decay is permanent damage and, left untreated, can lead to tooth pain or the need for tooth extraction. So, how does tooth decay develop?
When you eat and drink, the saliva in your mouth rinses away most of the residual food. When you brush your teeth, any remaining food and the bacteria that feed on it are further removed from your mouth. The problems most commonly occur when you don’t produce enough saliva, a condition known as dry mouth, or when you don’t brush and floss often enough. When excess bacteria remain on the tooth’s surface, it can lead to plaque formation. Plaque is a clear film that sticks to the tooth’s surface. If plaque stays on your teeth, the acid can start to eat away at the tooth’s surface, causing the tiny holes and openings. These holes and openings allow your mouth’s bacteria to enter even further into the tooth structure.
Tooth decay is prevalent in people who frequently eat and drink sugary foods and liquids. Because food is constantly covering the tooth’s surface, decay is also a problem for people who eat or snack often during the day. People who eat many sticky foods such as chips, cereal, or milk will have an increased chance of developing tooth decay. Tooth decay can also be higher in babies who drink milk or juice from bottles at bedtime. A pediatric dentist can help teach young kids how to take care of their teeth properly.
How Does Tooth Decay Develop in Adults?
The majority of tooth decay occurs in children and young adults. These groups are just developing proper hygiene techniques and tend to eat more associated foods with tooth decay. However, this doesn’t mean adults are not at risk. The older you are, the more wear and tear your teeth have been through. Your enamel becomes weaker as you age.
If you have dental fillings or sealants, they may have become cracked and damaged. Both of these conditions make your teeth more susceptible to bacteria finding its way into your teeth. Also, if you have plaque buildup over time, this can lead to even more tooth decay.
Other Ways to Develop Tooth Decay
Even if you practice good oral hygiene, brushing your teeth twice a day and diligent flossing will only go so far if you have underlying medical conditions. People with acid reflux, or heartburn, may experience tooth decay from the excessive stomach acid. Some eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, can also be causes of tooth decay. The repeated vomiting exposes your teeth to stomach acid and may interfere with your ability to produce saliva.
People who aren’t exposed to the proper amounts of fluoride are more prone to tooth decay. When added to toothpaste, mouth rinses, and the public water supply, fluoride can significantly decrease tooth decay chances. If you have certain medical conditions, are taking certain medications, or are undergoing certain medical treatments, you may be experiencing dry mouth and are more prone to tooth decay.
Get Help from Lovett Dental Northside
Taking care of your teeth is our number one priority. We offer several services to our patients, including:
- Teeth Whitening Services
- Emergency Dental Services
- Dental Bonding for Chipped Teeth
- Dental Fillings
- Fluoride Treatments
If you or someone you know is experiencing pain, an unsightly smile, or difficulty eating because of tooth decay, it’s time to seek professional help. The Lovett Dental Northside dentists can provide the care you need, from cleanings to fillings to dental hygiene advice. Call us today at 713-691-5551 to set up an appointment.