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    Oral Health Facts & Tips

Oral Health Facts and Tips - Tooth Decay

Posted: 7/24/2023

Brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush at least twice and flossing daily is the best way to keep on top of your oral health. This routine is critical to combat tooth decay by ensuring the bacteria in your mouth do not accumulate and cause damage. Bacteria left on the surface of your teeth form the sticky substance plague, which then hardens into calculus, aka tartar. Once you have tartar build-up, the dentist must remove it by scraping it off with a unique tool; tartar is much too hard for your toothbrush to eliminate.

What's the big deal with plaque and tartar build-up?

That's a great question. The issue lies with the bacteria that cause these problems. Every mouth has naturally occurring bacteria; routine dental hygiene keeps them in check. This bacteria is the source of tooth decay and gum disease: proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits are vital to ensure optimal oral health. Even the best home oral hygiene has limits on how much it can do; routine dental visits provide an additional layer of protection to ensure your natural teeth last a lifetime.

Tooth decay can be found on any part of the tooth's surface, from the top chewing surfaces to the side areas, between teeth, and down into the sensitive roots. Depending on the decay's size, location, and stage, it can look normal, whitish, chalky, or black. Early detection and treatment are vital to stop the progression of decay and avoid more intensive treatment.

Initially, tooth decay can be virtually symptom-free and remain hidden until it becomes advanced enough to cause symptoms. By the time symptoms are noticeable, chances are good that the erosion has produced a cavity that is well established and needs immediate treatment to prevent further decay. Routine dental visits are critical to detect changes to your teeth and gums before they cause obvious symptoms and more extensive damage.

Once decay has progressed to the point that it has created a cavity, it needs immediate attention. The dentist will thoroughly clean the area of any remaining bacteria and decay to prepare it for a filling to prevent additional damage to the tooth. Advanced cavities require more invasive treatment to correct and may need a root canal and crown to protect the remaining tooth from future fractures.

In a perfect world, there would be no tooth decay. But since we are susceptible to tooth decay, how can we best prevent it? You can incorporate many things into your lifestyle to help avoid tooth decay; here are a few ways to keep a healthy, cavity-free smile.

Brushing at least twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste

Brushing too vigorously or with a firm bristle toothbrush can do more harm than good. Aggressive brushing easily damages gums, which can lead to receding gums. Be thorough but take it easy when brushing and always choose a soft bristle toothbrush.

The American Dental Association has long recommended fluoride toothpaste because it helps reduce the demineralization process, which is the first stage of tooth decay. Many people use more toothpaste than necessary; a pea-sized dollop is sufficient to have the benefits of the fluoride and get the job done.

Daily flossing

Brushing your teeth is not complete without flossing daily. Food particles become trapped between teeth, and a toothbrush cannot access these tight spaces to sweep them away. Remember to use an up and down motion when flossing, not sawing back and forth. This technique is most effective at removing anything stuck between your teeth.

Avoid sugary and acidic food and beverages

A treat is fine now and then, but try to limit sugary foods and beverages. If you indulge in them, brush your teeth as soon as possible after your treat. If you cannot brush your teeth soon, drink some water to help flush away the sugar from your teeth. Acidic food and beverage consumption should also be followed by brushing teeth or drinking water to minimize the damaging effect on tooth enamel.

Eat a diet rich in nutrients

Eating a diet rich in nutrients is vital for oral and overall health. Foods especially good for your teeth and gums are fibrous fruits and vegetables. You may have heard the saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away; this applies to the dentist too! Fruits like apples and pears and vegetables like celery and carrots act as natural toothbrushes by scraping away plaque and fighting off bacteria. Dairy products like chees are high in calcium and contain caseins which form a protective layer over enamel. Meats are protein-rich and provide phosphorus, an essential mineral that protects enamel. Nuts are a great snack choice for dental health; they are powerhouses of nutrients and reduce harmful bacteria.

Where we come in

You are doing everything you can at home to care for your oral health and prevent tooth decay; we are your oral health partner to ensure your pearly whites stay with you for a lifetime. Call us today at Magic Smiles to schedule an appointment for a full assessment. Let's keep your smile magical!

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