Your mouth is full of bacteria that uses sugar to produce acids. When bacteria collects as a sticky, colorless film on your teeth, it is called plaque. If plaque is not cleaned off, it will eat away tooth enamel with acids that creates cavities in the tooth. Here are a few things you need to know about tooth decay and your oral health.
What Types Of Cavities Are There?
There are three types of cavities that can develop in your teeth:
- Pit Or Fissure Cavities: These are the most common because they develop on the chewing surface of teeth.
- Smooth Surface Cavities: These develop on the side of teeth.
- Root Cavities: These develop on the root of the tooth if the gums pull away and expose it.
What Teeth Are More Susceptible To Decay?
The molars and premolars in the back of the mouth are more likely to develop tooth decay because they have more grooves that can trap food and bacteria.
Why Tooth Decay In Baby Teeth Is So Bad?
Developing decay in baby teeth may not seem like such a big deal since they will fall out anyways. However, it has been found that children who have tooth decay with their baby teeth are more likely to have decay in permanent teeth. Additionally, if a baby tooth is extracted because of decay, the permanent teeth are more likely to come in crooked or crowded because their placeholder (the baby tooth) has been removed too early.
Who Is Most At Risk For Tooth Decay?
Children are the most at risk of getting cavities. However, adults over the age of 50 are next in line because they grew up with poorer dental care. The weaker fillings of that time can crack and create traps for bacteria. Older adults are also more susceptible to gum disease, which can expose the tooth root that has a weaker tissue protecting it.
What Are The Defenses Against Tooth Decay?
There are many ways tooth decay is prevented. These defenses include:
- Saliva: Saliva is very important for oral health because it brings in calcium and phosphate that helps to rebuild tooth enamel. Saliva also neutralizes the acids produced by plaque bacteria.
- Fluoride: This mineral protects tooth enamel, strengthens its resistance against acids, and helps rebuild it. Fluoride actually occurs naturally in water, though more of it has been added to most community water systems and it is an ingredient in toothpaste.
- Oral Hygiene: You can defend your teeth against decay by keeping good oral hygiene practices. These involve brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing them once a day, and seeing your dentist for regular check-ups.