Tooth decay is a worldwide epidemic that affects millions of people across all ages. The main victims are those who failed to maintain constant and correct dental care hygiene or a balanced diet for dental nutrients. Tooth decay begins with the typical scenario of failing to clean an area in your teeth for a very long time. Dental caries can bring you further dental damage including persistent pain, tooth loss, and other systemic diseases.
It's more than just the inconvenience of a dental procedure to treat it. When a person experiences tooth decay, changes in some aspects in your life can change as well, including speech, confidence, diet, and overall well-being. Considering the drastic changes that a person must cope with forcibly, tooth decay can be considered a serious dental condition. Thus, it is necessary to know its causes and how probable it is to have tooth decay. Awareness of the causes will lead you to effective and informed prevention.
Dental Decay: What causes it?Tooth decay could be a childhood nightmare, but it gets even scarier if they move on to your adult life. We have been told many times that sweets and starches are the exact culprits for a full blown cavity, but are they, really?
First, let's try to recall your tooth anatomy. An average tooth consists of a tooth enamel, dentin, pulp, and cementum. The non-living tooth enamel is considered as the most durable substance of the body, so the bacteria that destroys it must be really strong!
The teeth is covered in saliva in normal circumstances and this is very important in balancing out the pH scale of the mouth. Neutralization of the pH or acid level of the mouth is important in maintaining the natural strength of the teeth. A person's pH level may vary from 1-14, with 7 as the most ideal and neutral.
A person's mouth is loaded with bacteria. The number of bacteria in a single person's oral environment is more than the total population the world has ever had. Some types of bacteria are helpful, while some could be the main reason why you need to be careful with your oral health.
Specific bacteria such as mutans streptococci and lactobacilli thrive in dental plaque. They attach themselves in plaques and multiplies in great numbers every second that poor dental hygiene is continued. There's something in the sugar and starch components that make these bacteria super active, which could explain why your dentist warned you about chocolates when you were younger.
But thinking about it, the mutans streptococci and lactobacilli bacteria wouldn't be as alarming if you keep your mouth clean at any given time. The starches and sugars are used by these bacteria for their own metabolism, dropping the pH levels during the process. This process is called demineralization which means that the calcium and other strength-giving minerals are depleted in your teeth structure, making them weak and easy to break.
It is in this time that bacteria is given the opportunity to penetrate your teeth, thus the tooth decays.
Determining Your Risk Level
A person's risk level for tooth decays varies under different conditions and is very dynamic. It is almost impossible to determine your risk level through tooth decay risk management but it is very crucial if you wish to keep your teeth free from caries. An updated dental practice can give you a new way of determining your probability by just enumerating your dental habits. Modern dentistry gives you a systematic approach to assess your risk efficiently to provide effective preventive measures.
Certain protocols and individualized treatments are prepared for risk groups in different levels: low, medium, high or extreme risk. No person has exactly the same dental condition, and it makes this approach more feasible than the "one size fits all" type of treatment. During risk assessment, you'll know if you have:
- Susceptible teeth
- Acid producing bacteria
- Sugar and Carbohydrate deposits
Contrary to what you've known all these years, brushing and flossing shouldn't be your only way to prevent dental caries. It requires a more complex process. Dentists may even recommend further examination of your saliva and its bacteria level to complete the risk assessment and management.
Everything starts with awareness. Ask your dentist for a dental assessment for better tooth decay risk management and save your teeth from tooth decay by maintaining a clean, balanced and healthy oral environment.