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General Dentist: What Causes Tooth Decay?
It is always advisable to visit your general dentist regularly. Your dentist can spot a cavity early when it can be easily treated and reversed. It is important to find out what causes tooth decay. This will help you understand how to prevent your teeth from decaying.
Tooth decay is the breakdown of the enamel, the outer coating of a tooth. It can be a problem for adults, teens and children. Dental decay can lead to serious problems, which is why early treatment is helpful. Read on to find out what causes tooth decay.
What causes tooth decay?
Dental decay occurs when foods containing sugars stay on the teeth. Bacteria in the mouth need food, in order, to survive and multiply. When a person eats, bacteria in the mouth digest the sugary foods and turn them into acids. The acid, food debris, bacteria and saliva end up combining to form plaque. The acids in the plaque will dissolve the enamel, which creates holes in teeth. These holes are referred to as cavities.
It is not only sugary foods that are harmful but also carbohydrate drinks and foods. Carbohydrate foods are eventually broken down into simple sugars. This process can begin in the mouth. They also react with plaque and form acids. A person who eats a lot of high-carb and sugary foods is more likely to get cavities.
Who gets cavities?
Cavities are usually common among young children. However, changes in the mouth with aging make them a problem for adults too. As a person ages, the gums can pull away from the teeth. Gum disease also contributes to this problem. This leaves the roots of teeth exposed to plaque.
Cementum, which is a softer tissue compared to enamel, covers tooth roots. They are vulnerable to decay. It is common for individuals over 50 years to have root decay. Decay around fillings is also common for older adults.
When many older people were growing up, they did not benefit from modern preventive care and fluoride. Many of them usually have dental fillings. Over time, fillings weaken and can end up fracturing or leaking. Bacteria accumulate in the narrow gaps and cause acid to build up, which results in decay.
Signs of dental decay
There are no symptoms in the early stages of decay. However, dentists can find cavities during regular dental checkups. A general dentist can probe the teeth to look for soft spots or can use X-rays to check between the teeth. It is always beneficial for a patient to visit a general dentist regularly. Small cavities can be treated more easily than advanced decay.
Visit your general dentist for treatment
Every time a person eats or drinks anything containing sugars, bacteria produce acids that attack the teeth. The stickiness of the plaque allows the acids to remain in contact with the teeth and over time the enamel breaks down. Your general dentist can spot a cavity and treat it before it becomes worse. If you think you have a cavity, schedule an appointment with your dentist straightaway.
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