Tooth decay is the most common dental problem in the United States and is also the most common chronic health condition worldwide. Overall, tooth decay affects 3.9 billion people worldwide, accounting for nearly half of the global population. In the United States, 91% of adults ages 20 to 64 have at least one dental cavity. If you are wondering how to prevent tooth decay, the short answer is to ensure that you attend annual dental exams and practice proper oral hygiene.
Not only is tooth decay common among both adults and children, but it is also the leading cause of dental problems such as infections and gum disease. Untreated tooth decay can lead to a diminished quality of life and impact your physical and emotional wellbeing. General dentistry at Splendid Dental Care Bellaire can provide professional dental cleanings to remove plaque and tartar, which helps prevent tooth decay. Below we will take a look at how to prevent tooth decay and ensure that you continue to have a smile you love.
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is caused primarily by poor dental hygiene and not fully understanding how to prevent tooth decay. When food particles lay dormant in your mouth, it causes bacteria to build up. Bacteria use sugar as a food source, meaning that failing to remove food particles can create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, as your mouth is warm and dark. Combined with a plentiful food source, bacteria can spread throughout your mouth and gums.
Bacteria cause plaque to develop on the outside of your teeth, which damages your enamel. Enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth. Once plaque begins to accumulate, bacteria feed upon it and release an acid that damages your enamel. Tooth decay then causes cavities to develop inside your teeth, which provide a path for bacteria to enter. When bacteria enters your teeth, it can infect your pulp and gums. The pulp is the innermost layer of your tooth and houses nerve endings and blood vessels, causing severe pain if you develop an infection.
Tooth decay is treated by a dentist, who removes the existing decay and fills your tooth to prevent further damage. When left untreated, tooth decay can cause:
- Discoloration, staining, and yellowing
- Misalignment of teeth
- Gum disease, such as gingivitis
Tooth decay prevention is important. Without enacting proper tooth decay prevention methods, you are more likely to experience more severe dental problems.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
Your dentist can provide information about how to prevent tooth decay; however, if you struggle to make it to your annual exams and wonder how to prevent tooth decay naturally, the simple answer is practicing proper oral hygiene. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once daily. Flossing helps dislodge food particles that become trapped between your teeth, which is a popular place for bacteria to fester.
Another answer to the question of how to prevent tooth decay naturally is to supplement your brushing and flossing with a proper diet. Sugary diets increase your chances of experiencing tooth decay, as does drinking beverages like soda, coffee, and tea.
Annual dental exams are another common recommendation for how to prevent tooth decay. General dentists also can administer fluoride treatments to strengthen your teeth and combat tooth decay.
Another reason why regular dental exams are an important way to prevent tooth decay is that they include x-rays. X-rays allow your dentist to examine your teeth for signs of cavities and infections. When tooth decay is caught early, it is reversible, making early and regular treatment essential.
Scheduling an Appointment with a Dentist Today
Tooth decay is common and highly preventable. Regular dental exams, combined with proper oral hygiene habits, are the best way to protect your teeth. To learn more about how to prevent tooth decay, or to schedule an appointment today, call us at 832.365.4860.