We all hate to hear that our dentist has found new cavities since our last visit. Even worse, some cavities create pain that we can do little to relieve. Cavities are areas of decay on teeth, and they can form on any surface of a tooth. To repair a cavity, the decay must be removed and replaced with a manmade substance. How can you deter decay to avoid negative reports from your dentist and nagging oral pain? First, you must understand what causes tooth decay.
Although most people think they know the reasons for proper, daily toothbrushing, few people realize that clean teeth and healthy gums can protect against a variety of general, even life-threatening, health problems. When you don't brush regularly, harmful bacteria multiply and plaque forms. Combined with sugar, saliva, mucus, and food debris, plaque creates a strong acid substance that eats away protective tooth enamel to cause tooth decay. A downhill slide can result.
A Healthy Diet for Happy Teeth
According to an article by the ADA, “Many dentists are concerned that their patients are consuming record numbers of sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, and non-nutritious snacks that affect their teeth.” Poor choices in your diet can lead to tooth decay. Did you know that when sugar meets plaque, an acid forms and attacks teeth for up to 20 minutes?
You may not realize that even when your mouth feels clean, bacteria are still present. These naturally occurring microorganisms consume the minute food particles, after which they deposit a sticky residue on the teeth called plaque. After you brush and floss, plaque re-accumulates throughout the day and night, especially in places where toothbrushes can't reach. Left to harden into tartar, plaque build-up irritates gums and can trigger inflammation and gum disease. The good news is you can virtually eliminate plaque by carefully brushing and properly flossing every day.
Maybe It Is Your Problem
It hides in your mouth, destroying gum tissue and teeth, and it can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and pregnancy complications. Don’t think it’s your problem? Conservative estimates report that up to 80 percent of the population unknowingly has gum disease in some form.
Oral cancer kills more people nationwide than either cervical or skin (melanoma) cancer, and only half of patients diagnosed will survive more than five years. One American dies every hour from oral cancer. The most common risk factors are tobacco use, frequent high quantity alcohol consumption, constant sunlight exposure, habitual cheek or lip biting, or poorly fitting dentures. Although most oral cancers are found in people who use tobacco and/or drink alcohol excessively, 25 percent of oral cancers occur in people who have no risk factors at all.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense: poor oral health is linked to poor physical health. Your mouth is a key entryway into the rest of the body. If the mouth has a chronic infection or disease, then your entire body may be indirectly or directly exposed to those bacteria.
Healthy Hygiene, Healthy Heart
Believe it or not, how you take care of your teeth and gums affects not only your oral health, but it impacts your cardiovascular health, too. Although scientists are not certain of the precise relationship between the heart and oral hygiene, studies consistently demonstrate a link.
Damaged Enamel Causes Indecent Exposure
Incredibly hard enamel protects your teeth above the gum line so that you can bite and chew without pain or discomfort. Beneath the enamel, a more porous layer, dentin, extends to below the gum line. A hollow chamber inside the tooth houses the pulp, containing vital nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. It is the source of nourishment for the tooth.
Sodas and Sports Beverages Bad for Teeth
After a long, hard workout, people reach for an ice-cold sports drink to hydrate, equalize electrolytes, and refresh. Every day people order sodas at drive through fast food and dine-in restaurants. Some can't function without a caffeine and sugar-loaded beverage before breakfast. While these drinks may quench your thirst and boost energy, new research indicates that they may also increase your chances of tooth decay and gum disease.
Somewhere between the ages of 12 to 18 years old, third molars begin to develop and erupt through the gums if there is adequate space. However, the modern jaw shape often can't accommodate wisdom teeth, leading to either of two unhealthy conditions: crowding of existing permanent teeth and/or impacted tooth development. Since few people’s jaws can accommodate these large third molars, we typically examine 14- to 15-year-old patients to predict the upcoming developmental positioning of the wisdom teeth. A consultation with an oral surgeon is often recommended to evaluate the ideal timing of third molar removal, if necessary.
Do Women Need More Dental Attention?
It's official. Women and men are not created dentally equal. Of course, good dental hygiene habits are the same for all people, regardless of gender. But growing evidence shows women may be significantly more susceptible to serious health consequences from poor oral health. Even oral cancer, which used to affect men six times more than women, now affects men only two times as often as women. In fact, in every season of a woman's life, special precautions should be taken to preserve oral health.