Tooth decay, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), is the destruction of the tooth enamel – the hard, outer layer of the teeth. It can be a problem for children, teens and adults. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on our teeth. When you eat or drink foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth and over time the enamel can break down. This is when cavities can form.
A cavity, which is a tiny opening or hole on the tooth, is the most common form of dental disease. A cavity usually does not hurt, unless it grows very large and affects the nerves or causes a tooth fracture. An untreated cavity can lead to tooth abscess, an infection in the tooth.
According to a Babylon cavities dentist, to prevent cavities from forming, it is recommended that you brush your teeth 2-3 times per day, floss your teeth 1-2 times per day, and limit your intake of high-sugar beverages and food, like candies, gums and sweets. Other ways of checking plaques and preventing cavities are through dental sealants, thorough dental cleanings for your teeth and gums, routine 6-month checkups and in-office fluoride treatments.
Fluoride is a recent and effective advancement in the dental and oral health industry. Studies have shown that teeth exposed to a moderate and consistent amount of fluoride are stronger and the fluoride helps rebuild the tooth structure and prevent future decay.
Your babies need to be protected too. While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay (also called early childhood caries, nursing caries and nursing bottle syndrome). Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle containing anything other than water – such as fruit juices, milk, formula, fruit juice diluted with water, sugar water or any other sweet drink – and left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.