What Actually Causes Tooth Decay?

Jun 17, 2013

In a very abstract sense, we all know what causes tooth decay: plaque, sugary foods and not taking proper care of our teeth. These are all things we’ve been told over and over since childhood. However, to the layman, it’s sometimes unclear why these factors lead to the destruction of our teeth. Lucky for you, at Noble Smile Dentistry, we’re here to illuminate the the truth behind this mystery.

 

How Tooth Decay Occurs

The visible portion of your tooth is composed of a substance known as enamel. While enamel is a strong substance, resistant to most forms of wear and tear, such as eating hard foods, it’s not indestructible. Additionally, there are many forms of bacteria that live in our mouths, and some of them live on the surface of our teeth as what most of us know as “plaque.” Now, most forms of food we eat contain some form or another of sugar—and some of the bacteria in plaque ferments the sugars from our foods into an acidic substance that causes tooth decay in our mouth. Left untreated, the acid created from plaque will eventually begin to create small holes in our teeth and eat away at the minerals in the enamel, forming what most of us know as cavities.

 

Preventing Tooth Decay

By now, you’ve probably been told a million times how to prevent tooth decay, but here’s a refresher.

 

  • Practice Good Oral Hygiene — This means brushing twice day for two to three minutes, as well as flossing. This will help remove plaque and sugar before it causes significant damage.

  • Avoid Excessive Amounts of Sugary Foods — Sugary foods can make for a sweet treat, but you’re not the only one who likes the sugar—so do the bacteria. Consider limiting yourself to a piece of candy—not the whole bag.

  • Visit Your Dentist Regularly — Regular cleanings are necessary to prevent tartar that is difficult to remove by non-professionals. Likewise, your dentist will ensure you have no cavities and help you take steps to prevent a cavity in its early stages.

 

If you have more questions about tooth decay or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jahangiri, call Noble Smile Family & Cosmetic Dentistry today.