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Aside from periodontal disease, tooth decay is one of the top causes of lost teeth in people of all ages. The sad part is that many people don’t fully understand what tooth decay is and why it’s such a threat to their oral health until it’s too late. And as your top orthodontists in the San Francisco area, it’s important to us that you understand tooth decay so that you’re able to maintain your oral health routine no matter whether you choose Invisalign, lingual braces, or ceramic braces. Read on to learn more or give us a call today.

What Is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is the result of a cavity, a permanently damaged area of the hard surface of the teeth. This damaged area is made up of tiny little holes called caries. Although there are many things that can cause cavities, bacteria and sugar in the mouth are the most common cause. Although cavities are far more common in children and infants, anyone can get them and they’re among the most common health issues. If not treated, cavities can lead to bad toothaches, infection, and eventually, tooth loss. The best way to prevent tooth decay is to watch closely what you’re eating and be sure to brush and floss at least twice daily.

What Are The Signs of Tooth Decay

Since cavities can be so damaging to your teeth, it’s important that you learn to recognize the warning signs. It’s important to remember that these are just some of the signs that tooth decay is occurring. You won’t necessarily experience any of these symptoms, so it’s important to always make regular visits to a dentist to ensure a cavity isn’t forming.

  • Your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold drinks
  • Pain or soreness while chewing
  • Pain in one tooth
  • Staining on the teeth
  • Visible holes on the teeth

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Although we already mentioned that bacteria and sugar in your mouth are the biggest culprits of tooth decay, you may be wondering what specifically causes it. Although there are thousands of “good” bacteria in your mouth, there also bad bacteria that combine with sugar and other harmful things in your mouth to form a sticky substance called plaque. Plaque usually accumulates near the gum line or in hard-to-reach places like in between the teeth or below the gumline, and if it’s not removed, it will eventually solidify into something called tartar. Although tartar can be removed from the teeth, it will require the help of a professional oral health expert.

When you don’t clean your teeth well enough, the acids in plaque begin to remove minerals in the hard outer enamel of your tooth. This results in tiny openings that is the first sign of a cavity. The next layer of your teeth, dentin, will be reached once the enamel is worn away. This part of the tooth is softer and a lot less resistant to bacteria and acid. It also has tiny tubes that communicate with your nerves meaning if the bacteria has reached this point, you may begin to feel pain in your tooth. Once the bacteria reach the pulp of the tooth, it becomes swollen and irritated resulting in more pain and an eventual infection of the tooth and tooth loss.

What You Can Do About It

First and foremost, you should be brushing and flossing at least twice a day. When you brush, ensure that you are covering as much of the tooth as possible and brush in a circular motion near the gum line. This will ensure that plaque isn’t able to build up in this area and begin breaking down the enamel on your teeth. With your molars, you should do the same, but also make sure to get the top of the tooth in the cracks and crevices where food can get stuck. When flossing, make sure to get in between every tooth thoroughly, and use a new piece of floss for each tooth to prevent getting bacteria back onto your teeth. Avoiding sugary drinks or snacks can also help you prevent cavities and making regular trips to your local dentist who can perform regular professional teeth cleaning services.

Learn About Invisalign, Lingual Braces, and Clear Ceramic Braces

Tooth decay is a problem that just about everyone will face at some point in their life. However, that doesn’t mean that it has to lead to tooth loss. When we apply braces, whether it’s Invisalign, lingual braces, or clear ceramic braces, we work hard to ensure you have the skills and knowledge you need to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you have any further questions or you’re ready to schedule an appointment, give us a call today to get started.

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