What You Should Know About Tooth Decay

Active Acids. It's a fact that the outer enamel layer of your teeth is one of the hardest substances in your body. And it's a good thing, since you need to use your teeth every day of your life, for years on end. Despite this inherent toughness of design, however, there is a common and stealthy enemy that knows just how to destroy your enamel. That enemy is tooth decay.

Here's why tooth decay is so sneaky and successful. Your mouth is filled with a constant supply or normal oral bacteria. These bacteria produce a sticky substance called 'plaque' which they deposit on your teeth. Carbohydrates such as milk, soda pop, raisins, cake, candy or any other sugary substance combine with the plaque to form a strong type of acid. And this acid simply eats away at your enamel, destroying it a little at a time. And it's not particular about your age.

Aging Adults. While young children often struggle with tooth decay due to poor brushing habits or too many sweets, adults need to be wary about it as well. First of all, aging can cause gum recession, leading to gum disease. So not only is the tooth enamel exposed to plaque, the unprotected 'cementum' tissue covering the tooth root is exposed as well. Cementum is even more susceptible to tooth decay, as well as to hot, cold, and touch.

Furthermore, while growing up, many of our current older adults didn't have the benefit of fluoride or modern preventive dental care. Therefore, they typically have quite a few fillings. These fillings can fracture, leak and accumulate bacteria, allowing tooth decay to eat away at the enamel underneath. Plus, older people often have tooth decay in hard to reach places, such as the edges or margins of their teeth.

Protection & Prevention. Of course, you've heard the constant reminders from your dentist about 'brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly'. Well, now you can see how wise that advice is. Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable if you're willing to brush properly with a fluoride toothpaste after every meal, floss daily, and eat nutritiously while avoiding snacks. Further protective measures might include requesting additional fluoride treatments, asking about dental sealants to cover your chewing surfaces, and having advanced periodontal cleanings more frequently as you age.

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