Tooth decay — How to assess your risk

Brushing Teeth

Your teeth are important, they appear round the age of 10 and need to last you a lifetime. However, they are under constant attack from the foods you eat and what you drink.

The fact is that most people believe that tooth decay is inevitable; but it is not!

All you need to do is assess your risk of tooth decay and take the appropriate measures to prevent it from occurring.

Your mouth

You may not think about your mouth much but the area inside is a complex ecosystem. Your natural fluids and enzymes constantly encounter and battling exterior elements; such as the sugar in your diet.

The fact is that this ecosystem needs to be kept in balance; if it isn’t then you are at an increased risk of tooth decay.

There is no universal standard; everyone has a different ecosystem which is why it is essential to pay regular visits to your dentist.

This will help you to learn when your ecosystem is out of balance and how to correct it.

Increased risk of tooth decay

The following factors will increase your risk of tooth decay. Fortunately these can all be controlled; this is especially relevant if you are simply more prone to tooth decay:

Dental hygiene

Tooth decay occurs because sugar and starch are converted to acid in your mouth by bacteria. The acid then attacks your enamel.

Over time this will wear the enamel down and expose the inner layer of dentin and ultimately the pulp. As the tooth decay worsens the root will be attacked and the blood flow will stop. If the nerve is dead the tooth will be said to be dead, although root canal and a crown can still be applied.

Brushing at least twice a day and flossing helps to reduce the acidity in your mouth.

You should also avoid snacking as this elevates the acidity. Of course, a regular visit to the dentist will remove the plaque buildup that attacks your teeth.

Diet

It is vital that you consider your diet. Avoiding snacking will help to lower the acidity level of your mouth and keep your teeth healthy.

However, you also need to think about the food you eat. Foods that are high in carbohydrates or sugars are more acidic and more dangerous for your teeth.

Keep your diet balanced to avoid the risk.

Smoking

It should come as no surprise to you that smoking is not beneficial for your teeth. The chemicals in cigarettes create a sticky layer on your teeth which makes it easier for bacteria to stick to your teeth and create the acid that causes tooth decay.

Medical conditions

If you have diabetes or Sjogren’s syndrome then you are more likely to suffer from tooth decay. The reason for this is that you will have a dry mouth.

Salvia is essential for washing away bacteria; a dry mouth means you can’t do this effectively. This issue is compounded if you have diabetes as you are likely to have a weaker immune system.

It is also worth noting that respiratory illnesses may leave you with dry mouth as you are constantly breathing through your mouth.

In fact many medications list dry mouth as a side effect.

If you do suffer from dry mouth you can purchase saliva substitute or try chewing sugar free chewing gum to stimulate the flow of saliva.

Bad brushing

Brushing twice a day is important; but only if you do it properly! Brushing too hard can cause your gums to recede. This can then expose the tooth material under the gum line known as cementum.

This material is much softer than enamel. Over time you can brush this away and leave your dentin exposed, allowing tooth decay to start setting in.

Monitoring

It is possible to have your saliva tested to discover whether it is acidic or not. If an issue is discovered then you can adjust your diet and use special rinses to ensure the right pH level is maintained in your mouth.

You can actually test for decay with a swab! This is worth doing at least once to discover your risk factor. You will then know how closely you need to monitor your tooth health.

Visiting your dentist is also important as they can use sophisticated x-ray equipment to detect decay before it is visible to your eyes! This can prevent the cavity from even forming!

The most important thing is to remember that tooth decay can happen to anyone but it doesn’t have to. Regular check-ups and good oral hygiene can allow you to keep your teeth for life!