Many factors can lead to tooth decay, from unhealthy food to inadequate dental care. Here are seven common causes of tooth decay, and information about how to stop the damage before it starts.
Tooth enamel is your first line of defense against tooth decay. Healthy, robust enamel can help protect your teeth from decay. If you’re one of the many people born with problematic enamel, you’ll need to take extra steps to protect your teeth from bacteria, infections, and decay. Talk with your dentist about sealants that can close off crevices in your teeth or address other issues with your enamel.
Inadequate Oral Hygiene
Your dentist provides you with regular dental checkups, but you’re responsible for the majority of your day-to-day dental care. Caring for your teeth requires much more than just a quick brush once or twice a day. For the healthiest teeth, brush for at least two minutes at least twice each day or after every meal. Be sure to floss your teeth at least once each day, too.
Dry Mouth Problems
Whether dry mouth is a result of taking prescription medications, diabetes, or another factor, it’s a troublesome condition that can lead to bigger problems. Since saliva naturally helps to combat plaque and remove sugars from your teeth, not having enough can lead to tooth decay. While dry mouth is difficult to fix naturally, consult with your dentist to determine the best way to resolve any problems.
Since most people grind their teeth when they’re asleep or stressed out, chances are that you don’t notice when you do it. You’ll almost definitely notice your tooth enamel slowly wearing away as a result of excessive tooth grinding, though. Because loss of enamel can expose your teeth to decay, be sure to ask your dentist for a night guard that will prevent additional enamel loss.
Acidic Meals and Beverages
Drinking coffee, soda, and wine can cause your teeth serious damage, since their acidic properties wear down tooth enamel right away. But did you know that many of the foods you eat on a regular basis are also acidic and can cause similar damage? Some fruits, vegetables, and meats can attack your tooth enamel, but you can prevent the damage by brushing after each meal.
A diet high in sugar isn’t good for any part of you, especially your teeth. Sugars welcome bacteria, which can quickly cover your teeth in damaging acid. Avoid sugary foods, or commit to brushing your teeth after each meal to reduce sugar-loving bacteria.
Lack of Fluoride
When you don’t get enough fluoride, your teeth lose an extra layer of protection against acidic foods and beverages, which can lead to enamel loss. Brush regularly with tap water, which typically includes fluoride, or use toothpaste made with fluoride for an additional boost.
Causes of tooth decay are both genetic and environmental, but the good news is that you have the tools to fight them all. Practice good oral hygiene, eat healthy, and visit your dentist for regular checkups to drastically reduce the threat of tooth decay.