A cavity is a hole in your tooth that forms due to untreated tooth decay. When decay is caught early, it could be possible to reverse before a cavity forms. William Taylor, DDS, Dr. Jeff Martin, and the team at Martin Taylor Dentistry in Tucson, Arizona, would like to help you understand how tooth decay forms, why it happens, and how you can prevent and reverse it before it results in a cavity.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay occurs when acids in your mouth break down your tooth enamel. Your mouth contains hundreds of different strains of bacteria. When you eat or drink foods that include sugars or carbohydrates, the foods interact with the present bacteria, resulting in acid. This newly formed acid coats your teeth in the form of a sticky film, plaque. Plaque is removed when you brush your teeth and floss.
When these acids are not properly cleaned and allowed to remain, the exposure to the acid will break down the minerals in your teeth. This results in the surface of your teeth becoming weaker and eventually decaying. When you visit your local area dentist, they can spot tooth decay with an examination and X-rays. Your dentist will also be able to determine how advanced any existing decay is. When decay is in the early stages, lifestyle changes may be recommended to halt the progress of this decay and cavity formation. These lifestyle changes may include a change in diet, your oral hygiene routine, and other habits.
Can Tooth Decay Be Reversed?
Tooth decay can be reversed as long as it is not too advanced. What cannot be reversed is the formation of a cavity. Your tooth’s enamel is not regenerative, meaning that once a cavity develops, it will need to be filled by a dental professional.
In general, you should avoid overconsumption of foods and drinks, which could be promoting tooth decay. These include foods that are high in processed sugars, carbohydrates, and natural acids. Instead, focus on consuming foods that may have naturally occurring prebiotics. These probiotics could help promote a mouth full of healthy bacteria. Consume foods that are naturally high in vitamins and minerals to strengthen your teeth. Supplements can also be helpful, including iron, calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium.
Drink water instead of sugary juices and sodas. Tap water is better than bottled because it is fortified with fluoride. If you are a coffee drinker (high in acid), try green tea instead as a caffeine substitute. Also, and maybe most obviously, avoid sugary snacks like candy and others, which may not only be high in sugar but also in added acidic elements. Most candy, for instance, has added citric acid, which is harsh on teeth.
Oral hygiene habits are the other leading cause of tooth decay outside of diet. Even if you consistently brush and floss your teeth, if you are not doing it correctly, you may not be getting the results you expect.
If your dentist detects tooth decay during an examination, they will likely discuss brushing and flossing techniques and provide any additional tips or instructions that they believe will help you combat oral disease more efficiently.
To learn more about tooth decay or to schedule an appointment, please call our office today at (520) 600-6925.
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